Will 2012 Be The Year Of The Woman In The Senate?

Election Day is only a little more than a year away, and it's never too early to speculate about races that will be shaped by unforeseeable factors in the coming months. One yet-unknowable X factor that has some politicos excited is the role that women will play, especially in the Senate.

The Times reports that the current Senate boasts 17 women. Next year, a total of 10 Democratic women will be running for seats in the Senate, and two are running for Republican seats. After the electoral dust settles, the Senate class of 2013 may have more women than ever — or it may not. The Times explains,
If all or most of the incumbent women prevail in 2012, and even just a few women of the many recruited win new seats, women would reach an all-time high in the Senate. But the loss of just one female Senate seat with no replacements would cost women ground in the Senate for the first time since 1978, when the number of women in the Senate went from two to one.

In the last couple of election cycles, it's been Republican women who have snagged a disproportionate amount of media attention. Between the Palins and Bachmanns and now the Noems and Haleys, it may look like it's the Republican party is the one cultivating female political ambition, but that's not the case at all.

Jess McIntosh is a spokesperson for EMILY's List, a national organization that works to get pro-choice Democratic women elected to office, and she knows that the current crop of Democratic powerladies has been a long time coming. "Democrats have been engaged in concerted efforts to build the pipeline for women to run for office for the last 25 years," she says. "It's paying off now, especially with redistricting and retirements, as women are already in place to seize opportunities."

Some of that from-the-ground-up-swell can be attributed to organizations like EMILY's List, while some can be traced to the dedication of other female Senators who understand that it's important that women run for office. Patty Murray of Washington, for example, has encouraged Wisconsin's Tammy Baldwin to run for the retiring Herb Kohl's Senate seat next year, and she's working on others.

Next year's shaping up to be an exciting one women and politics, especially considering the fact that until mere months ago, there was no women's rest room anywhere near the House floor. We really are living in the future! Onto the flying cars and matching sexy jumpsuits!

With More of them Running, Women Could Have a Banner Year in '12 [NYT]