The year of the Republican woman
Two congresswomen from New York are celebrating the election, but only one victory is getting national attention from traditional women’s outlets. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and her Democratic “Squad” all won reelection. They even added a member with the election of Cori Bush from Missouri.
That’s not what should be dominating the headlines when it comes to women and the 2020 election.
Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), who was the youngest woman ever elected to Congress before Ocasio-Cortez took that title, won her fourth term. But the big news is that Stefanik’s sisterhood of conservative women in the House grew by double digits. Stefanik led the way in recruiting and advocating for more Republican women in Congress. She put her reputation, time and energy into supporting these candidates.
Her effort paid off.
After only one new Republican woman was elected to Congress during the 2018 midterm elections, Stefanik launched E-PAC to increase the number of Republican women in Congress. There were 13 Republican women in the House before Nov. 3. So far, 12 Republican women have been newly-elected to the House.
“I’m proud that after starting E-PAC last winter and working to engage, empower and elevate Republican women this cycle, we are now on track to double the number of GOP women in the House,” Stefanik said.
Republican women flipped six seats. With the retirement of Reps. Martha Roby (R-Ala.) and Susan Brooks (R-Ind.), and with the other Republican women in the House winning reelection, the number Republican women in the House has grown to at least 23 in one election cycle.
There are currently 101 women in the House, including 88 Democrats and 13 Republicans. That makes 10 new Republican women a significant addition — and much more important than one new member of the progressive squad.
Yet you wouldn’t know that from the women’s magazines.
Teen Vogue published a piece on The Squad’s win: “2020 Election Results: The Squad Is Back in the House and Bigger Than Ever.” The article mentions “new faces” in Congress, but no Republican women are included.
Glamour magazine included The Squad’s victory and growth in two of its election highlights featured in its post-election coverage at the top of its homepage.
Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire and Seventeen ran the same article on The Squad: “All Four Members of ‘The Squad’ Have Been Reelected to Congress.”
The focus on these women shouldn’t distract from the new band of women in the House who will make their mark.
Nancy Mace, who flipped a seat in South Carolina, told me about her victory: “It’s clear that voters want conservative women in leadership across the country. I’m grateful, humbled and eager to represent everyone. People want a new ‘Nancy’ in Congress who stands up for Parris Island, wants lower taxes, more jobs, re-opening our economy and true fiscal conservatism.”
Mace, a graduate of The Citadel, served in the state legislature.
Lisa McClain, a businesswoman and now congresswoman-elect from Michigan, shared with me: “Republican women did well in House elections because we can appeal to a broad base of the electorate. The Democrats have liked to characterize the Republican Party as the party of old white men. This is proven wrong by the number of Republican women elected to the U.S. House. From open seats to challenging Democratic incumbents, it was a phenomenal night for Republican women.”
While The Squad champions progressive policies such as “Medicare for All” and the Green New Deal, the new Republican women are offering more traditionally conservative policies. And their platforms won in their districts.
It’s rather fitting for Republican women to win election 100 years after women earned the right to vote. After all, women do not think or vote with one voice. The 117th Congress will feature more women lawmakers who reflect the diverse views of women across the country.
It’s up to these Republican women to take their visions and priorities to Congress, and to offer a compelling alternative on the national stage. If they do that, the media can’t ignore them for long. The Squad, and all of America, will be hearing from this new troop of sisters soon.
Karin A. Lips is the founder and president of the Network of Enlightened Women, which educates women on conservative principles. She is a senior fellow with the Independent Women’s Forum and editor of “She’s Conservative: Stories of Trials and Triumphs on America’s College Campuses.” Follow her on Twitter @klips.