A record number of women will serve in the US House of Representatives next year, while the number of women in the Senate will remain steady at 14. Eight women picked up open seats or unseated incumbents, and 57 female incumbents retained their seats, in addition to three non-voting delegates (representing Washington, DC, Guam, and the US Virgin Islands). Of the eight new women elected to the US House, five are pro-choice, pro-women’s rights Democrats who were endorsed by the Feminist Majority PAC: Melissa Bean (IL-8), Cynthia McKinney (GA-4), Gwen Moore (WI-4), Allyson Scwartz (PA-13), and Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (FL-20). In a close race, Bean ousted Rep. Phil Crane (R-IL), a longtime opponent of women’s rights and reproductive rights. Three are Republicans, all of whom are anti-choice.
The number of women in the US House may increase even further. Democrat Willie B. Mount, running in Louisiana-7, faces a runoff election on December 4 against Republican Charles W. Boustany. In addition, as of this writing, the race for New York’s 27th District between Republican Nancy Naples and Democrat Brian M. Higgins is still too close to call.
Of the 65 women who have been declared winners of their races, 42 are Democrats and 23 are Republicans. The number of women who ran for the House of Representatives, 142, was also a record this year.
The gender composition of the US Senate did not change. Five female incumbents retained their seats, and all five female challengers lost their races. Betty Castor (D), running against Mel Martinez (R) for retiring Senator Bob Graham’s Senate seat in Florida, came within only two points of winning.
Media Resources: Feminist Majority; Center for American Women and Politics 11/3/04