We knew going into Tuesday’s primary that history was going to be made. Suffice to say, Democrats are poised to make it take hold.
Primary elections were held this week in Vermont, Connecticut, Minnesota and Wisconsin, and Tennessee’s primary contests were held last Thursday.
The Center for American Women and Politics, a unit of the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University, has been tracking results for women candidates in these races.
The center pointed to several critical factors for women.
First, State Senate President Pro Tem Becca Balint handily won the Democratic nomination for Vermont’s at-large U.S. House seat. She will compete in a general election contest currently rated as “Solid Democratic” by Cook Political Report, and is strongly favored to become the first woman to serve in the U.S. Congress from Vermont. Vermont is the only state that has never sent a woman to Congress. Balint will also be the first openly gay member of the Vermont congressional delegation, if elected in November.
In addition, Charity Clark won the Democratic nomination in the open-seat contest for attorney general against rival Rory Thibault, the Washington County State’s Attorney. If successful in November, she would be the first woman elected attorney general in Vermont. Current incumbent Attorney General Susanne Young, the first woman to hold the office, was appointed by Republican Gov. Phil Scott in July to fill a vacancy.
But that only tells a piece of the Vermont story.
Emerge Vermont, which recruits and trains Democratic women to run for office, delivered big wins up and down the ballot in Tuesday’s primary election.
The organization had 48 alums on the ballot with 44 wins and a 92% win rate. At least 37.5% of alums on the ballot were members of the New American Majority — Black, Brown and Indigenous women and women of color, as well as LGBTQ-plus, young, and unmarried women — while 10 were first-time candidates.
Among them, Anna Tadio, seeking a state Senate seat in Rutland County; Anne Watson, the sitting mayor in Montpelier who is seeking a Senate seat to represent the new Washington District seat. (Watson was a top vote-getter over some long-time incumbents.) Also on the list were Balint, Brenda Siegel, who is running for governor; Clark, for attorney general; Kari Dolan who is seeking the Washington-2 House seat; Sarah Copeland Hanzas, who won the nomination for secretary of state; Sarah George, the nominee (and incumbent) for state’s attorney in Chittenden County; Stephanie Jerome, who is seeing the Rutland-9 House seat; and many more.
Another group of women recently completed an intensive campaign training, with 11 (85%) also winning their primary races. Among them were Ela Chapin, who is the nominee for the Washington-5 seat; Kate McCann, who won the nomination with Conor Casey for the Washington-4 seats; and Rebecca Holcombe, the former education secretary and one-time gubernatorial candidate who is now the nominee to the Windsor-Orange-2 seat.
“More women are winning when running for office than ever before, thanks in part to Emerge Vermont, which recruits and trains Democratic women to run,” stated former governor Madeleine Kunin in a statement issued Wednesday. Kunin founded Emerge Vermont in 2013. “I’m thrilled that Emerge Vermont is making a difference in women’s high success rate.”
According to the release, alums of Emerge Vermont were on the ballot for offices at every level, from the Legislature to governor to the congressional delegation.
Prior to Tuesday’s primary, 54% of alums have gone on to run for political office or been appointed to local boards or commissions, and of those who have gone on to run for an elected position, 39% have won, including Speaker of the House Jill Krowinski, Senate Pro Tem Balint, and Lt. Gov. Molly Gray, who was challenging Balint for the seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.
According to the statement, nationally, Emerge has trained more than 5,000 alums since 2002 and currently has more than 1,000 alums in elected office across the country.
“The organization is committed to reaching 100,000 women of the New American Majority over the next 15 years, fostering a lift as you climb culture for women in politics, and repowering political structures. There are currently 27 state affiliates, and the organization has impacted a total of 45 states, Washington, D.C., and territories,” the release stated.
We congratulate all of Tuesday’s victors. We look forward to the next phase of your campaign and the leadership you will bring to Vermont.