Two out of 33. That’s how many women are running major Republican Senate campaigns this cycle. Savvy political hands know that campaign managers take a back seat to consultants and other senior advisers, but it’s still a telling statistic about the relative lack of women in important political positions inside the GOP, one that has some strategists worried the party doesn’t have the best-possible personnel to reach out to female voters in 2014.
— In most cases, female Republican strategists don’t blame overt sexism for their lack of representation. Instead, they think the party simply doesn’t do a good enough job recruiting and then retaining young women, the kind of talented operatives who can one day run a big-time campaign. When candidates chose their manager, there simply aren’t many qualified women from which to choose.
— Their absence is also felt in the consulting class, where women are badly outnumbered by men. Many women do hold important jobs in communications and finance, but neither is the kind of job that leads to jobs at the major consulting firms that often make a campaign’s big decisions.
— Republicans point out the party has made strides: The NRCC, for example, is led by Executive Director Liesl Hickey and Deputy Executive Director Jessica Furst. And the largest Republican campaign in the country, Florida Gov. Rick Scott‘s reelection effort, is run by a woman: Melissa Sellers. And at the NRSC, a spokeswoman says half the staff — including several in key political positions — is now female.
Republicans are cognizant the party needs to add more women to their ranks. But doing so will take time — as the 2014 Senate campaigns are finding out now.
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