Gender politics play important role in upcoming midterm elections

More women than ever before won major party primaries for Congress and governor this year, giving them the chance to significantly increase their numbers in office.

There are liberal women aplenty who want to run for office, but conservative women have been harder to find.

Turns out women are active in both parties. But their activism takes different forms.

Uyen Nguyen is laying the groundwork for women to run for political office, some 32 years after immigrating from her native Vietnam.

"I came to the United States thinking that there is so much equality and opportunity for everyone in this country," said Nguyen. "And the 2016 election really just disrupted that belief for me. 
And I just didn't see any other way to resolve it than to get really involved in the process."

She turned to social media.

"I wanted to start a fund to help women and minorities get elected to public office," she said. "And for me the big thing was around women because women being 51% of the population (and) is very much oppressed in this country."

Out of that came Emerge Washington, a non-profit foundation whose sole goal is putting more women into public office.

"Women are not encouraged to run," said Nguyen. "And even when they get the interest to run, they just don't have the tool(s) to do it."

"We recruited this past year for our first cohort, a group of 24 women," said Karen Besserman, Emerge Washington's executive director.

"They came from all over the state. They live in eight of our 10 congressional districts. 
Ten of the women identify as LGBTQ and women of color."

And it's not just gender, they share.

"We just train Democratic women," Besserman said.

Indeed, the criticism of the female activism since the 2016 election has been that it is one sided. 
That the only women whose views are getting currency are liberals.

That few people are looking for the voice of the female conservative.

"Part of the reason is that women in general are more reluctant to run for office," says Dr. Patrick Schoettmer, a political science professor at Seattle University.

"A second reason is going to be where women find leadership opportunities. A lot of conservative women will satisfy that leadership need in the church itself."

And he says there are simply more women who identify with the Democrats.

"We've seen women, especially since the election of Donald Trump, move decidedly towards the Democrats," he said. "As far as their partisan identities go, more women are feeling that the Democratic party is their home."

Even so, Republican Susan Hutchison, a former KIRO-TV news anchor, is challenging Democrat Maria Cantwell, the longtime senator from Washington state.

Moreover Washington's congressional delegation is 40 percent women, two Democrats and two Republicans.

Claire Wilson graduated from Emerge.

She is now running for the state Senate taking on the Republican incumbent, Mark Milosia, for the 30th legislative district.

She says she has one goal: "Change."

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