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The Power of Women in Politics

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Influential Delaware women examine gender shift in politics

Bethany Hall-Long, Lieutenant Governor of Delaware; Cathy McLaughlin, Executive Director of the Biden Institute at University of Delaware; Emily Taylor, Vice Chair of the Delaware Republican Party; Jill Farquharson, Communications Director, U.S. Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works, and former campaign manager, Tom Carper for Senate; Kathy Jennings, State Attorney General of Delaware; and Nancy Karibjanian, Director of the Center for Political Communication

​University of Delaware hosted a panel talk on "The Power of Women in Politics" on April 22, 2019. ​Pictured from left to right are Bethany Hall-Long, Lieutenant Governor of Delaware; Cathy McLaughlin, Executive Director of the Biden Institute; Emily Taylor, Vice Chair of the Delaware Republican Party; Jill Farquharson, Communications Director, U.S. Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works, and former campaign manager, Tom Carper for Senate; Kathy Jennings, State Attorney General; and Nancy Karibjanian, Director of the Center for Political Communication (moderator).

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View Flickr album. Watch the video. Read the transcript. Read the WDEL article.

APRIL 22, 2019―In the wake of the record-breaking numbers of women who won seats in Congress during the 2018 midterm elections, five powerful women in politics met at the University of Delaware to discuss the path forward. Moderator Nancy Karibjanian, director of UD's Center for Political Communication asked tough questions: How can Americans ensure a strong and consistent presence of female representatives in their government? How can we support young women who enter politics and also ensure their success?

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Eli Pardo, President of College Republicans (left) and Kelly Read, Vice President of College Democrats (right)

​University of Delaware students organized the event. Eli Pardo, President of College Republicans (left) and Kelly Read, Vice President of College Democrats (right) welcomed the guests.

UD's College Democrats and College Republicans invited Delaware political leaders to talk to students about their stories and what drives them. The nonpartisan panel discussion, which took place on Monday, April 22, featured Bethany Hall-Long, Lieutenant Governor of Delaware; Cathy McLaughlin, Executive Director of the Biden Institute; Emily Taylor, Vice Chair of the Delaware Republican Party; Jill Farquharson, Communications Director, U.S. Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works, and former campaign manager, Tom Carper for Senate; and Kathy Jennings, State Attorney General.

Asked whether 2018 was the beginning of a surge, Emily Taylor said, "Definitely there were more women running in 2018 than there were in ’16 or ’14, which, if there’s more women running there’s more of a chance of women winning."

Kathy Jennings said, "2018 really was a watershed year in our recent history. 50.3 percent of eligible voters voted across the country, making it the highest turnout in a midterm election since 1914 and the first time a majority of eligible voters cast ballots since women gained the right to vote. In Delaware, the percentage was even higher. More than 360,000 Delawareans voted. That translates to a turnout rate of 52 percent. Those are the stats. The reality is that in Delaware everywhere I went, everywhere I looked, there were women running for office. And most of us for the first time. In fact, you have nine statewide elected offices in Delaware, five are now held by women."

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​Bethany Hall-Long considered the high voter turnout rate. "The reason I feel that women are in the force more now is because of certainly the [women's] movement and activities, but voters are looking for―whether you’re a Democrat or Republican―someone they feel is going to listen and to listen well and to reflect their views."

Cathy McLaughlin said there is strength behind the record-breaking numbers. "There’s a lot more women in state legislatures. Forty percent of state legislatures are now women. At the local level, that’s a pool of candidates who are coming up. One of the effects that I found is of the women who ran for Senate, 80 percent of them had legislative experience prior to running. Only 22 percent of the men had any government experience prior to running."

Jill Farquharson stressed the importance of women supporting each other. "I have women that I work with who have seen me through from being an intern all the way up to campaign manager, and it takes a willingness to accept constructive criticism without being indignant. Just having someone to vouch for you and then constantly proving to them that you’re worthy of their trust. And it’s a really wonderful relationship."

All agreed that life as an elected official is hard work. It is not always glamorous, but it is worthwhile. Hall-Long advised the audience to pursue their passions. "One of the reasons I came tonight was to try to inspire you, to say thank you to the Democrat and Republican students. Know your passion, know your why. And as our Joe Biden says, its not how many times you get knocked down, it’s how many times you get up. I lost my first election by absentee ballots. It wasn’t fun. So again, politics is a personal sport, you know? But you do it for the right reason, and you do it for your passion, and you do it for your why."

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Following the record-breaking numbers of women who won Congressional seats in 2018, five women in Delaware politics met to discuss the path forward.
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