More women on Iowa ballots in 2016 than in previous elections

Female candidates abound at every level of government

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By Ed Tibbetts, Quad-City Times

More Iowa women are on the ballot for federal and state legislative seats this year than ever before, according to a group that’s trying to convince more women to run.

The group, 50-50 in 2020, says that 65 women are on ballots statewide. Twenty-seven of the candidates are incumbents, and 38 are not, the group said.

Jean Lloyd-Jones, a former state senator from Iowa City and a co-founder of the group, called it “another step on the path to equity for women in Iowa government.”

The last election cycle marked a milestone in Iowa politics, with Sen. Joni Ernst, a Republican, elected to the U.S. Senate, the first time Iowa had sent a woman to Congress.

This year, with Hillary Clinton running for president, the group also is heralding the idea that women are running at every level of the state ballot.

Officials with the organization think Clinton may be inspiring other women to run this year. But this year’s record-breaking turnout for women also is partly being driven by a handful of central Iowa women who are on the ballot challenging incumbents, said Mary Ellen Miller, the executive director for 50-50 in 2020.

The previous high for women being on the Iowa ballot was in 2012, Miller said.

The 50-50 in 2020 group, whose goal is to have as many Iowa women as men holding state and federal legislative seats in four years, noted it was making the announcement of a new state record in time for the federally designated Women’s Equality Day, which was observed on Friday.

Still, the group says more progress is needed. Fewer than a quarter of the state’s legislative seats are held by women, Miller says. And, until 2014, Iowa was notable for being one of only a small number of states never to have sent a woman to Congress.

Maggie Tinsman, a former state senator from Bettendorf and a founder of the group, said she thinks their efforts are helping, as is the sight of other women running, including for president.

“I’m very excited to see more and more women running,” she said.

The 50-50 in 2020 group, which was founded in 2010, has a number of programs to further its goal, such as holding training academies for women running for office. It says it’s the only bipartisan, issue-neutral group in the country working to elect women.

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