STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

Why Martha McSally's appointment is a game changer

Although Republican candidate Martha McSally lost the tight Arizona Senate race to Democrat Kyrsten Sinema i...

Posted: Dec 20, 2018 10:52 AM
Updated: Dec 20, 2018 10:52 AM

Although Republican candidate Martha McSally lost the tight Arizona Senate race to Democrat Kyrsten Sinema in the midterms, McSally is still headed for the Senate. Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey announced on Tuesday that he is appointing McSally to finish out the term of the late Sen. John McCain, presenting a rare and significant opportunity to further advance women's political leadership in the state of Arizona and across the nation.

Two female senators

Martha McSally

Political Figures - US

Arizona

Continents and regions

Demographic groups

Elections (by type)

Elections and campaigns

Females (demographic group)

Gender equality

Government and public administration

Government bodies and offices

Government organizations - US

Governors

Heads of government

Legislative bodies

Midterm elections

North America

Politics

Population and demographics

Sex and gender issues

Society

Southwestern United States

The Americas

United States

US Congress

US Federal elections

US Senate

US Senate elections

What's immediately notable is that not only has Arizona elected its first female to the Senate with Sinema, but now Arizona and its neighbor Nevada will join the ranks of a handful of other states that have two female senators representing them in the upper house of Congress. Only four other states -- California, Minnesota, New Hampshire and Washington -- can say the same.

California first achieved this milestone in 1992 when it elected Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer. This followed the Clarence Thomas-Anita Hill hearings, which galvanized the nation around gender politics in what became known as the "Year of the Woman."

The resulting increase in women's representation in Congress that year (with a record six female senators and 24 women elected to the House) has been dramatically eclipsed by the historic wave of women who ran and won seats in the House and Senate in the 2018 midterm elections. Many argue this influx was fueled by outrage that began with the election of Donald Trump and reached its zenith when Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed after Christine Blasey Ford testified against him on charges of sexual assault. (Kavanaugh vehemently denied all charges.)

Now Sinema and McSally, who notably resolved their tight race without rancor, have the opportunity to show the nation the difference increased women's political leadership can make.

The multiplier effect

The phenomenon of women elected to top positions in clusters was the subject of a 2014 study commissioned by Political Parity, a project of Swanee Hunt Alternatives. The study explored the "multiplier effect" of women elected to a state's three top offices (the US Senate and/or the governorship) over a relatively short period to determine if there are measurable factors driving their success in particular states.

Now, in this new Year of the Woman, Arizona will join an expanding list of states that have had women in two or more of a state's three top jobs since 1992: Alaska, California, Hawaii, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Texas and Washington.

According to the study, the rise of women to these positions is most likely to happen in states that are larger, comprised of better-educated and diverse populations, and where Democrats dominate. California, notable for having two female senators (Dianne Feinstein, and then Kamala Harris succeeding Barbara Boxer) since 1992, is the clearest example.

However, Arizona, by no means dominated by Democrats, is a fascinating outlier, though the state fits the study's "broken-barrier" correlation. Political insiders watched as Democrat Rose Mofford became their first female governor in 1988. Once Mofford had broken that barrier, Republican Jane Dee Hull became governor in 1997.

Indeed, Arizona's history is replete with strong women who have long made strides in the state legislature. The state leads the nation in electing women as governor -- two Democrats and two Republicans -- and ties with Vermont for the highest proportion of women in legislatures at 40%.

In short, women around the nation, elected in record numbers, have accelerated the pace of change. At the time the Political Parity study was conducted, many complained that it would be more than a century before women achieved parity in the US Congress. This year's midterm election may have moved up the horizon.

Why having more women matters

Arizona is yet another example of the seismic shift underway in women's representation across government. The 2019 freshman class of women in Congress will be the largest ever for a total of 102 female representatives and 25 female senators -- increasing female representation in Congress from 20% to 23.7%. These gains were amplified by the historic increase in women voting, marching, becoming civically engaged and making their voice heard.

Why does it matter? Political science research indicates that when women achieve a critical mass (20-30%) in a government body, not only does the culture of that body shift away from the "smoke-filled room" to more transparent, family-friendly processes,but it also produces better results with an emphasis on policies that invest in areas like health and education. Simply put, more women in power means better governance for all of us.

The promising increase in women's political participation is a significant step toward leading us to parity in politics as well as other sectors of society. But complacency can be dangerous; we must continue to actively push for women's political progress because even with the recent gains in the midterm elections, women are still far from having equal representation.

How can we maintain the momentum?

Mentorship is one way to keep the number of female politicians on the rise. In states like Arizona, with two or more women in the three top jobs, those women and other political leaders can accelerate the multiplier effect. Top elected women can groom future leaders (much like Hillary Clinton did with New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand), and they can actively participate in networking to elevate women into the pipeline for state and national office.

We can also be proactive in encouraging women to run (or consider running ourselves) in races for local lower-level offices. According to the Political Parity research, almost half of all members of Congress served previously in their state legislatures, so encouraging more women to run for these offices correlates significantly with a state electing women as senators and/or governors.

In general, we can also support diverse candidates by donating to their campaigns, volunteering and voting. We can speak out to protect against voter disenfranchisement, speak out against sexist media treatment of female leaders, as well as support female candidates when they are in office.

The shift to women's political leadership is still a long way from complete. But Arizona joining the few other states that have two female senators has just moved us further down the road toward a more reflective and equal democracy that represents us all.

Correction: This piece originally stated Janet Napolitano was the first female governor of Arizona. She was the third.

Lafayette
Clear
46° wxIcon
Hi: 46° Lo: 26°
Feels Like: 40°
Kokomo
Partly Cloudy
41° wxIcon
Hi: 43° Lo: 28°
Feels Like: 31°
Rensselaer
Clear
39° wxIcon
Hi: 43° Lo: 23°
Feels Like: 30°
Lafayette
Clear
46° wxIcon
Hi: 44° Lo: 24°
Feels Like: 40°
Danville
Clear
42° wxIcon
Hi: 45° Lo: 25°
Feels Like: 35°
Frankfort
Clear
43° wxIcon
Hi: 46° Lo: 26°
Feels Like: 35°
Frankfort
Clear
43° wxIcon
Hi: 44° Lo: 25°
Feels Like: 35°
Monticello
Clear
41° wxIcon
Hi: 46° Lo: 27°
Feels Like: 33°
Monticello
Clear
41° wxIcon
Hi: 44° Lo: 27°
Feels Like: 33°
Logansport
Clear
41° wxIcon
Hi: 44° Lo: 26°
Feels Like: 31°
Windy, But Warmer For Thursday
WLFI Radar
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 598313

Reported Deaths: 9529
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion826311317
Lake44778676
Allen32331543
Hamilton28818314
St. Joseph27014378
Elkhart24244343
Vanderburgh19012243
Tippecanoe17701128
Johnson14748289
Porter14574166
Hendricks14074244
Madison10768217
Vigo10584177
Clark10428136
Monroe9222109
Delaware8982134
LaPorte8925159
Howard8061141
Kosciusko796782
Warrick657997
Hancock653599
Bartholomew634097
Floyd6270108
Wayne6037159
Grant5893112
Dubois549477
Boone542267
Morgan526294
Henry500764
Marshall497784
Cass477062
Dearborn467645
Noble466157
Jackson419146
Shelby408180
Lawrence385777
Clinton368240
Gibson362659
DeKalb341364
Montgomery338953
Harrison335343
Knox331339
Miami315744
Steuben309844
Whitley299825
Adams297835
Wabash297747
Ripley294945
Putnam290347
Huntington287559
Jasper286234
White269839
Daviess264773
Jefferson255838
Decatur244382
Fayette243948
Greene237062
Posey235227
Wells232247
LaGrange226061
Clay219932
Scott219538
Randolph210445
Jennings195335
Sullivan190033
Spencer185819
Fountain180827
Washington180222
Starke173943
Jay164822
Owen161737
Fulton161430
Carroll154515
Orange153433
Rush152318
Perry149727
Vermillion146733
Franklin145533
Parke12988
Tipton129532
Pike114626
Blackford109522
Pulaski95637
Newton89921
Brown86533
Benton85410
Crawford7769
Martin71013
Warren6637
Switzerland6325
Union6166
Ohio4747
Unassigned0375

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events