Voters are seeing more female candidates on the ballot than ever before
Thousands gathered at the Michigan State Capitol in January for Power to the Polls, an event with speeches on feminism, transgender rights, immigration reform, and more. Before the gathering wrapped, a congregation of women running for office gathered near the bottom of the Capitol steps. Together, they raised American flags as the crowd cheered and “We Will Rock You” played overhead.
The event marked the one-year anniversary of the Women’s March, which attracted more than 1 million protesters following President Trump’s inauguration. Since that initial display of progressive values, the #MeToo Movement, Time’s Up blackout at the Golden Globes, and the sentencing of Larry Nassar have captured the country’s attention.
Moments like these, as well as a majority Republican government, have inspired more Democratic women to run for office in U.S. states, including Michigan — where, as of last year, women only held 37 seats in the state legislature, with 18 of those belonging to Democratic women.
“We’re seeing daily assaults on our rights and freedoms from the right, and it’s Democratic women who are best suited to safeguard them,” says, A’shanti Gholar, political director of Emerge America, a progressive women’s organization with a Michigan chapter.
PHOTOGRAPH BY ROBERT KILLIPS / LANSING STATE JOURNAL
Despite the national conversation’s focus on women from the left, however, it’s not just female Democrats who are running. Conservative women are advocating for their political beliefs, which often focus on border security, pro-life legislation, and tax cuts.
“Conservative leadership, principles, and perspectives focus on the core of society — God, family, nation, community, prosperity, and the like,” says Linda Lee Tarver, president of Republican Women’s Federation of Michigan. “While Republican women are not chanting in the streets, calling themselves nasty women, or wearing p***y hats, we are uniquely qualified to run for office being well informed, highly motivated, experienced, proven, and in agreement to ‘Make America Great Again.’”
Michigan has had its share of notable women politicians, from Jennifer Granholm’s election as its first female governor and Candice Miller’s long record of public service to Gretchen Whitmer’s emergence as a Democratic gubernatorial front-runner.
Hour Detroit asked several local female politicians about what issues they’re passionate about. The answers, naturally, varied. But despite their party affiliation, each candidate agreed on the need for change — and they’re ready to make that happen.