- 2018 was a pretty good year for many Republican female candidates.
- Three women became the first elected female governors in their states during the 2018 midterm elections.
- And members of Congress Liz Cheney and Elise Stefanik are continuing to raise their profiles in the GOP.
2018 was a year with plenty of firsts for Republican women — Marsha Blackburn became the first woman to represent Tennessee in the Senate, Kristi Noem became South Dakota’s first female governor and the list goes on.
Republican women will be carrying that momentum into 2019. Here are six GOP women to watch in the coming year, from the governor’s mansion to Capitol Hill.
Republican Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney will hold the same seat her father, former Vice President Dick Cheney, held nearly 40 years ago. She achieved the party’s third-ranking leadership position after just one term in Congress, while her father achieved it after four.
She will succeed Washington Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers as Republican conference chair in 2019. The position puts her in the running for even more prestigious GOP spots in coming years.
Cheney has served on the Committee on Armed Services and the Committee on Natural Resources since 2017.
New York Rep. Elise Stefanik won re-election to her third term in Congress during the 2018 midterm elections. She held the record for youngest woman elected to Congress until Democratic New York Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, 29, broke Stefanik’s record in 2018.
Stefanik has long been vocal about her belief that Congress needs more women.
“I think women speak to hard working families,” she told The Daily Caller in a 2013 interview. “The people that balance budgets for their families are often women. Women are small business owners. Women increasingly are the higher dollar earners in families. I think it is important to represent their perspective.”
She’s also clashed with other Republicans in recent days. Stefanik had been the first woman to head recruitment for the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) but stepped down in December, reported The New York Times. She said she wants to focus on her leadership political action committee, E-PAC, to help more Republican women succeed in primaries.
The New York Times wrote:
Ms. Stefanik said she recruited more than 100 women to run this year, and only one won a seat in Congress; she said she grew frustrated by the party’s reluctance to back the new candidates she had helped recruit.
Some of her congressional colleagues did not like her decision. Incoming NRCC chairman Tom Emmer, a Minnesota Republican, called it a “mistake.”
“If that’s what Elise wants to do, then that’s her call, her right,” Emmer told Roll Call. “But I think that’s a mistake. … It shouldn’t be just based on looking for a specific set of ingredients — gender, race, religion — and then we’re going to play in the primary.”
Stefanik has served on the Committee on Armed Services and Committee on Education and the Workforce since 2015, according to Ballotpedia. She’s served on the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence since 2017.
Outgoing South Dakota Rep. Kristi Noem outraised her Democratic rival for the governor seat in 2018 and won a race classified as a “remarkable” toss-up by Cook Political Report. Noem became the first female governor of South Dakota without much media fanfare.
She ran on a platform of keeping taxes and regulation down. Noem also banked on her down-to-earth image as a rancher who took over the family operation when her father died unexpectedly.
Noem discussed her experience as a congresswoman in a legislative body that’s roughly 80 percent male.
“I was expected to help with the chores, even though they were tough and they were often dirty ones,” Noem said during a 2011 floor speech, according to The Hill. “I grew up thinking that I could do anything that the boys could do, and that way of thinking has certainly stayed with me.”
Kay Ivey and Kim Reynolds
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey and Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds are also the first women to be elected governors of the their state — the key word being “elected.” Ivey and Reynolds were both lieutenant governors who stepped in when their respective governors could no longer serve in office. Now they have cemented their positions in elections.
The two former second-in-commands became state executives for very different reasons. Ivey replaced former Republican Gov. Robert J. Bentley, who resigned in the wake of a sex scandal, in 2017. Reynolds replaced former Republican Gov. Terry Branstad when he was appointed U.S. Ambassador to China that same year.
Ivey, a former teacher, wants to raise pay for state education employees as well as focus on “early childhood education, computer science in middle and high school and workforce preparedness,” reported CBS 42.
Reynolds straddled the conservative and moderate factions of her party during her 2018 run for governor. She broke with the Iowa GOP’s stance against same-sex marriage during summer 2018 when she said the issue was settled because state and federal courts had ruled in favor of it, reported the Des Moines Register.
However, Reynolds also faced criticism when she kept Republican Iowa Rep. Steve King as a co-chair of her 2018 campaign, despite remarks King had made that many deemed racist, reported the Des Moines Register.
Unlike the other politicians on this list, outgoing Republican Utah Rep. Mia Love won’t be sworn into any office in 2019. She lost her re-election bid to Democrat Ben McAdams during the 2018 midterm election.
Love has not said what her next step will be, but there have been reports she will not try to retake her seat on Capitol Hill and might instead try her hand as a political commentator, reported Utah Policy in the wake of her concession.
Love went after President Donald Trump and the Republican Party for shunning “real relationships” and opting for “convenient transactions” during her concession speech in Salt Lake City on Nov. 25.
Trump had slammed Love for distancing herself from him and his policies during her campaign when it appeared likely she would lose her re-election bid after Election Day.
“The president’s behavior towards me made me wonder,” Love said during her concession speech, according to CNN. “What did he have to gain by saying such a thing about a fellow Republican? … However, this gave me a clear vision of his world as it is. No real relationships, just convenient transactions. That is an insufficient way to implement sincere service and policy.”
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