FORBES: Diverse women battling Republican stereotypes


A bevy of smart, fresh-faced Republican women is running for Congress this year, shattering the stereotype that the political right is a bastion of old, white men.


They face enormous internal and external obstacles, yet their rise could help a GOP brand facing the lowest party identification among voters in at least a generation.


Women voted 55 percent for Democratic President Obama and just 44 percent for Republican Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential election, a figure on par with the 56 percent Obama received in 2008. What’s even more problematic for Republicans is that women made up about 54 percent of the electorate in 2012, so their margin is more meaningful than the pure nominal gender gap suggests.


Unfortunately some Democrats and other Republicans themselves are engaging in misogynistic attacks against female Republican candidates.Yet these women are forging ahead, well-positioned to carry the GOP through this election cycle and into Congress.


“The GOP did not have a broad enough discussion of the positive ways in which conservative principles impact women’s lives,” said Erika Harold, 33, an attorney and former Miss America battling incumbent Rep. Rodney Davis in the Republican primary for Illinois’ 13th congressional district. “[H]aving more female Republican members of Congress would enable the party to communicate more effectively with broader groups of voters and highlight the ways in which conservative principles further women’s economic interests.”


Harold weathered a sexist and racist attack from a local Republican Party chairman  who later resigned after sending an email calling her “street walker,”  and “the love child of the DNC [Democratic National Committee].”


Setting aside the vitriol, Harold’s campaign is tapping into likely voters’ rock bottom approval ratings of Congress, a signal that incumbents are endangered and voters want new voices to lead.


“While my background as a former Miss America is something that initially intrigues many people, my goal is to run a campaign focused on the issues that matter most to voters within my district—the national debt, term limits, overregulation, agriculture and education,” Harold said.


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