By Grace Bennett
As November 4th draws ever closer, the United States has midterms on the mind. With tight races ongoing in the Senate, House of Representatives, and gubernatorial levels, the culmination to a heated election season looks apt to provide plenty to consider come November 5th. Of course, there are still a good deal of debates to be had, advertisements to be run, and gaffes to be made before anyone hits the polls. To prepare for the elections, Georgetown University Women in Leadership identified some of the most promising female candidates this election season. Here within, our women to watch for the 2014 elections:
Bonnie Watson Coleman
Race: NJ House 12th District
Coleman is running to fill the congressional seat being vacated by long-term congressman Rush Holt. Since 1998, Coleman has served on the New Jersey General Assembly and has previously served as the majority leader of this body. While serving on the General Assembly, Coleman has proved a champion for the vulnerable, pushing for a higher minimum wage and helping to initiate the Economic Opportunity Act, which has created a number of jobs for working class New Jerseyans. Among the issues most important to Coleman are women’s and civil rights, environmental protection, public education reform and increased job production, especially for middle class communities. The American Federation of Teachers, The Women’s Campaign Fund, The American Federation of Labor, and retiring congressman Rush Holt have all endorsed Coleman. If elected, she will be the first female congresswoman from New Jersey in more than 30 years.
Race: Oregon Senate
Prior to seeking office, Wehby, a pediatric neurosurgeon, practiced medicine in the Portland area for more than 30 years and served as president of both the Oregon Medical Association and the Portland Medical Society. A strong objector to The Affordable Care Act, Wehby feels her experiences as a doctor make her uniquely capable to lead the charge for viable healthcare reform in Congress. In addition to health care, Wehby categorizes economic growth and public education reform as key points in her campaign. She is also a strong proponent of introducing Senate term limits as a tool to impede career politicians. If elected, Wehby will become the first female senator from Oregon in 47 years.
Alison Lundergan Grimes
Party: Democrat Race: Kentucky Senate
Grimes is competing against current incumbent and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in an increasingly tight race. Since 2012, Grimes has served as Kentucky’s Secretary of State. While occupying this office, she focused her efforts on the protection of victims of domestic abuse and on revolutionizing Kentucky’s absentee voting system in order to simplify the process for military voters. If elected Senator, Grimes promises to promote gender equality and to transform Kentucky’s job market in order to drive down unemployment. Recognizing the vast differences between her and McConnell, Grimes stressed, in an interview with MSNBC, “This race is about two very different visions for the future”. If elected, Grimes will unseat the longest serving US Senator in Kentucky history. While most polls still show McConnell in the lead, the gap has closed dramatically and some pollsters report an even heat.
Shelley Moore Capito
Race: West Virginia Senate
Shelley Capito is no stranger to the United States Congress, having served as a West Virginia Congresswoman for nearly 15 years. During her tenure in Congress, Capito has served on the House Financial Services Committee and as chairwoman of the Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit Subcommittee. A co-founder of the Congressional Coal Caucus, Capito has worked to encourage the utilization of all forms of energy production, especially as a means of encouraging job growth. While serving in the House of Representatives, Capito proved a central advocate and supporter of the Coal Jobs Protection Act. As Senator, she promises to again work tirelessly to ensure that this bill, and legislation like it, passes the Senate. If elected, Capito will make history as the first female Senator from West Virginia.
Race: Massachusetts Governor
Martha Coakley entered the gubernatorial race shortly after current governor Deval Patrick announced he would not be seeking reelection. As the first female Attorney General in Massachusetts, Coakley made headlines by being the first Attorney General to successfully challenge the Defense of Marriage Act. During her tenure as Attorney General, she promoted women’s rights and voices by founding a Women’s Leadership Council, which served to uphold women’s interests throughout the commonwealth. In addition to civil rights, Coakley identifies public education reform and the reduction of the stigma surrounding mental health problems as two of her main policy priorities. Polls currently show Coakley and her opponent, Republican Charlie Baker, in a deadlock, with either one capable of coming out ahead on Election Day.