Washington State has a proud history of electing women to the Legislature. For years Washington set the standard with the highest percentage of women lawmakers in the country. But in the ebb and flow of politics, the tide has turned. Over the past decade our state has been losing ground in electing progressive women to the State Legislature. In 1998 – 2002 more than 40 percent of the Washington legislators were women, the highest percentage in the history of the country. But by 2012, just 30 percent of state legislators were women.
And while in 2002, women made up two-thirds of the Senate Democratic Caucus with 18 members, now there are only ten women members in that caucus.
An additional concern is the successful recruitment and election of staunchly conservative Republican women. In 2012, three conservative Republican women joined the state Senate and three more Republican women entered the state House.
Unfortunately over the past decade, several strong progressive women legislative leaders have left office, while fewer progressive women are being recruited, trained and elected to serve. We want to build a new wave of women candidates and change the political landscape for all women.
Why It Matters:
The State Legislature determines the priorities for our state budget. Without the voice of progressive women we are losing the fight to ensure appropriate funding for what are the largest and most significant expenditures in our state—education, health and human services. These investments are essential to the health and wellbeing of our families and the long-term economic vitality of our state. These are not “women’s issues” but they have often been the issues that attract women to run.
The steep decline in the number of progressive women serving in the State Legislature means we are losing champions and mentors. We don’t have the votes we need to bring forward and pass common-sense legislative initiatives that benefit women and families. Issues such as reproductive rights, child care, pay equity and paid family leave have stalled. Of even deeper concern are the attacks on basic services and rights. Washington’s reputation as a national leader on issues such as abortion rights, environmental health, social justice and health care is threatened.
State legislatures are also a natural training ground and traditional “stepping stone” for a career in political leadership. U.S. Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell both served in the State Legislature in the 1990’s. Conservative female legislators now use that same path to Congress from our state legislature; indeed, two of our three Congresswomen are staunch conservatives.
The Win With Women team intends to turn around the decline in progressive women’s leadership and membership in the Washington State Legislature. We are working to bring new voices, new energy and new money into the system.
In our first two years, we successfully raised $150,000 to support the efforts of our endorsed candidates. In 2016 we are turning our attention in the current cycle to building a more local network of supporters who can help us win the “ground game” for our endorsed candidates.
In 2016, Win With Women has two regions where we are emphasizing this local focus—SW Washington and South King County/Pierce County. We are focused on swing districts where progressive women candidates are making strong efforts. Win With Women wants to build the pipeline for future progressive candidates who share our values.
Win With Women intents to create a new wave of women leaders who will be able to effect real change in our state legislature to enact equal pay laws, ensure full access to reproductive rights, implement paid family and medical leave, and create a system of early childhood education and child care that helps all working families.
Where we stand:
The Win With Women PAC (WWW) was founded to elect progressive women to office. Our initial focus is on the Washington State Legislature.
WWW has brought together women leaders from different backgrounds to support a few credible and strong progressive women candidates who can reverse the tide of shrinking representation of women in the Legislature and in leadership positions.
The fundamental principles on which we stand include:
- Access to affordable, quality healthcare for all people, with the full spectrum of reproductive health care options, contraception, maternal health care, and abortion.
- Workers’ rights are women’s rights. Pay equity, paid sick and family leave, access to all employment and leadership positions, and policies that advance wages, benefits, and opportunity are especially important for women workers. Workplaces safe from sexual harassment, an end to trafficking; the right to organize and bargain collectively, and an end to hiring and employment discrimination are crucial.
- Public education is fundamental to democracy. High quality, affordable, adequately funded early learning, K-12 and higher education are all necessary for creating a comprehensive education system that will build both a stronger democracy and full economic opportunity.
- Environmental health is essential for our wellbeing. Policies are needed to ensure communities and families are free of toxins; effects of climate change are mitigated and reversed; environmental standards are enforced that protect our land, air and water; investments are made in a green economy; and our parks and wilderness are accessible and protected for generations to come.
- Sustainable and equitable communities are critical to ensure a strong safety net for children and vulnerable adults and we need policies that increase opportunities and eliminate discrimination and exploitation
The Win With Women Pac is dedicated to the advancement of progressive women into political office and leadership positions. We are alarmed by the paucity of progressive women in elected office, especially women of color, and are determined to reverse this trend.