Record number of women projected to join Congress

Politics

WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — Facing criticism about the lack of diversity within their party, Republican officials and high-ranking lawmakers’ effort to recruit more female candidates for the U.S. House seems to have paid off.

If 2018 was considered by some to be the year of the woman in congressional races, 2020 may be the year of the Republican woman.

“Women didn’t decide to run based on their gender. They ran because they’re badasses,” said Congresswoman-Elect Beth Van Duyne, who won her seat this election in Texas’ 24th congressional district after an incumbent male Republican retired.

Some races are still outstanding, but to date, the GOP added 13 women to its ranks. At least 35 Republican female representatives will serve in the next congress.

“We all have lived experiences…So I think the more voices you have at the table, the more reflective you are of our growing society,” said Van Duyne.

Van Duyne is a former mayor of Irving, Texas who also worked for the Department of Housing and Urban Development regionally. She’s also a mother of two children, and has a record as a cultural conservative. Her combination of governmental and personal experiences made her precisely the type of candidate Republican House Leader Kevin McCarthy hoped to recruit.

“They were very successful, and I think a lot of that happened to do with their conservative views,” said Rep. McCarthy. He says the female candidates who won seats did so because their ideals align with their districts.

McCarthy acknowledged Republicans in Congress had a diversity problem.

“When I sat and watched the State of the Union, there was no doubt we were not reflective of the size of the party, and who supported us,” said McCarthy. Out of 197 Republicans in the current House of Representatives, just 22 are women.

WATCH: Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) speaks on record number of women projected to join Congress

“When people look at Congress, they want it to be representative of what our nation looks like,” said Congresswoman-Elect Ashley Hinson.

Hinson says she’ll represent Iowa’s first district in the next congressional session. She says Republican women bring an important perspective to Washington.

“We’re no nonsense people. We sit down, we get things done. I feel like there’s a lot less posturing among the women in our group,” said Hinson.

All the women NewsNation spoke to for this story made one point very clear: they didn’t run, or win, simply because they’re women.

“We need to be able to show our next generation what it’s like to be a strong citizen…no matter what your perspective is, no matter what your gender is,” said Hinson.

“Not, you know, ‘hey I’m going to check a box’ mentality,” Congresswoman-Elect Kat Cammack, who will represent a rural district in Florida.

She says she and other newly elected female Republicans are now focused on issues. Cammack says her first priority will be to get her rural constituents access to good broadband internet.

“Access to high speed reliable internet is incredibly important,” said Cammack, just as her computer connection broke up through static.

Cammack says she and her freshman colleagues won’t dwell on identity questions. She says it is significant, however, the party looks a little more like the broader population.

“I hope that that kind of starts changing the narrative in Washington D.C., and really across the country about what does the GOP look like,” said Cammack.

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