WASHINGTON― For the first time in American history, a group of voters in Nevada has the chance to elect all women in November, from the presidency and Congress all the way down to the state Assembly.
In Henderson, Nevada, just south of Las Vegas, voters will be looking at an all-female ticket on the Democratic side: Hillary Clinton for president, former Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto for the Senate, Jacky Rosen for the House, Joyce Woodhouse for Nevada State Senate and Lesley Cohen for Nevada State Assembly.
“Growing up as a young girl in the 1960s, before Title IX and the feminist movement, I never could have imagined that so many women could be running for office and making a difference,” Rosen told The Huffington Post. “I’m proud and excited about it.”
Rosen, a longtime computer programmer and newcomer to politics, was recruited by outgoing Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to run for the seat being vacated by Rep. Joe Heck (R). Rosen believes Nevada’s third district is the perfect place to elect the nation’s first all-female ticket because the voters seem to understand that women bring a unique set of skills to public office.
“It’s a common-sense district where people know that women work across the aisle to get things done,” she said. “Women know that they have to talk to each other. They go get a cup of coffee with each other. They go to work when the weather is bad, when it’s snowing or blizzarding outside. They have the ability to listen, to understand, to have empathy.”
Rosen is nearly tied in the polls with her tea party Republican opponent, Danny Tarkanian, in the race for the swing seat. Tarkanian wants to defund Planned Parenthood, ban abortion even in cases of rape and incest, build a “strong wall” between the U.S. and Mexico and make America “respected and feared again,” according to his campaign website. Rosen supports abortion rights and Planned Parenthood funding, backs the Affordable Care Act and advocates for a “higher livable wage.”
Cortez Masto, who would be the first Latina in the Senate, is also running a competitive race against Heck for Reid’s vacated seat. Heck, a physician and army general, has a three-point lead over Masto in the latest Monmouth University poll. But the former attorney general has the backing of EMILY’s List, a powerful and well-funded PAC that helps elect pro-abortion rights Democratic women to office.
EMILY’s List’s strategy is to build up a strong pipeline of women candidates at the state and local level who can then be competitive in national races. The group highlighted Nevada as a top target of its “Focus 2020” program, which aims to flip legislative chambers Democratic and add more women to them.
Cohen, the EMILY’s List-backed attorney vying for District 29’s seat in the state assembly, said it’s “really exciting” to be running alongside Clinton on a potentially all-female ticket. But the fact that so many women on one ballot is unusual, she said, “shows that we still have far to go.”
“I think women are strong in this community, but don’t think it necessarily has to be such a unique thing,” she said. “Women are capable everywhere of doing this, of running and being involved in politics. This is just where it happened.”
“This might be the first time we’ve seen a ballot with women up and down the Democratic ticket, but it definitely won’t be the last,” Rachel Thomas, a spokeswoman for EMILY’s List, said. “We’ve been building up a pipeline of Democratic women leaders here for decades, and it’s incredible to see that work bear out on the Nevada ballot.”
Women are still deeply underrepresented in congress, of course, making up only 19 percent of the nation’s top legislative body. Three states have still never sent a woman to congress, and Nevada has never sent a woman to the Senate. The state’s Democratic party is hoping to change that in a big way come November.
“We are going to demolish the glass ceiling,” said Roberta Lange, chair of the Nevada Democratic Party. “We need more women at all levels of government, and I hope this amazing Democratic ticket inspires more Nevada women to step up to run for office.”
This story has been updated with a comment from EMILY’S List.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story misquoted Rosen. She mentioned Title IX, not Title IV. Also, due to an editing error, a previous version of this story mischaracterized Emily’s List advocacy.