Pennsylvania Women Advance in Primary Campaigns for House Seats

(Bloomberg) -- Democratic women won at least seven House primaries in Pennsylvania on Tuesday, raising the prospect that the state’s all-male congressional delegation could become much more gender diverse after November’s general election.

The victories in the swing state may energize female voters who have already shown unprecedented levels of political engagement, giving Democrats an edge in the November general election.

And since both the Republican and Democratic candidates in one district, the Fifth, are women, at least one of the 18 people that the state sends to Congress next year will be female.

Pennsylvania is a key state for Democrats as they attempt to win back control of the House, which would allow them to block key parts of President Donald Trump’s agenda. Their odds in the state have been boosted by Republican retirements and resignations in suburban districts and a court-ordered redistricting that made several seats more favorable for Democrats.

Primaries were also held Tuesday in Idaho, Nebraska and Oregon. By the end of June, more than half of U.S. states will have held nominating contests that will provide a clearer sense of voters’ mood.

20 Women Ran

Pennsylvania’s congressional primaries included 20 women, all but one of them a Democrat, among the nearly 100 congressional candidates in the state. Women competed in 14 primary contests in both parties, and won at least eight races. In two contests, women trailed men in Democratic primaries, but the results were too close to call.

Women advanced to the general election in three of the five Republican-held districts Democrats see as most vulnerable. Democrats’ are in a promising position to send at least four women from Pennsylvania to Congress following Tuesday nights results.

Air Force veteran Chrissy Houlahan, State Representative Madeleine Dean, and lawyer Mary Gay Scanlon all won Democratic primaries in suburban Philadelphia districts where Democrats are favored to win. Former Allentown City Solicitor Susan Wild also won a primary in the Lehigh Valley. All of these races have been rated "leans Democratic" or better by the non-partisan Cook Political report.

Pearl Kim, a former Delaware County prosecutor and the Republican Party’s lone female congressional candidate, won her primary and will face Scanlon in the Fifth Congressional District.

Jess King, a former executive director at a non-profit who was endorsed by Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, also ran unopposed in a district in Lancaster County in the southern part of the state. She will face incumbent Republican Representative Lloyd Smucker in a seat that became even safer for Republicans after redistricting.

Emily’s List, a group that helps elect Democratic women, backed five women in southeastern Pennsylvania. At least three of those candidates won.

"Pennsylvania has been a difficult state for women in the past, as evidenced by the fact that it is the largest state with zero women in its federal delegation," Emily’s List President Stephanie Schriock said during a conference call with reporters last Thursday.

Schriock said Pennsylvania, particularly the seats near Philadelphia, is "a huge piece of the calculus" for Democrats nationally, and her group hopes to see the party pick up a net of three to five seats in the state. "Even before the new map we believed this was going to be a central piece of our majority path," Schriock said.

Democratic Representative Conor Lamb also advanced in a primary comprising part of the district outside Pittsburgh that he won in a special election in March.

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