A bipartisan group of women is launching an effort they’ve dubbed “50-50 by 2020.” Republican Maggie Tinsman, a former state senator from the Quad Cities, is one of the group’s co-founders.
“The whole mission is to achieve political equity for Iowa women by really recruiting and training and mentoring women in sufficient numbers that by the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage, which is the year 2020, we will have elected females to fill 50 percent of the Iowa legislature, a couple of congresswoman, possibly a senator, as well as the office of governor,” Tinsman says.
Iowa and Mississippi are the only two states in the country which have not elected a woman as governor or to congress. This new group plans to host a three-day “academy” for women who are thinking about running for office. “And talk about — not about issues or about party — but about how you win,” Tinsman says.
Tinsman was the first woman elected to the Scott County Board of Supervisors. Tinsman says during her first race in 1978, she got flack from women her own age who thought she should stay home and raise her three young children. “That’s changed now,” Tinsman says. “I think women have seen other women out in the work world and have seen examples of women elected officials and so younger women don’t have that same reticence as it was back in the ’70s.”
Tinsman is among a board of 14 women leaders — seven Republicans and seven Democrats — who’ll be making appearances around the state today and tomorrow to discuss the effort to recruit women to run for political office.
The number of women who earn a paycheck has grown by 40 percent in the last 25 years. Government statistics indicate this year — 2010 — is the year when women became the majority in the workforce and Tinsman believes that’s a “helpful” sign in the effort to get women to run for office.
“In Iowa, women make up 53 percent of the registered voters, as a matter of fact, and they turn out in a higher percentage than men,” Tinsman says. “And, still, we only have (women in) 26.2 percent of the seats in the Iowa legislature.”
Democrat Bonnie Campbell of Des Moines, the former Iowa attorney general who ran for governor in 1994, and Republican Debi Durham, the 2002 G.O.P. nominee for lieutenant governor who serves as president of the Siouxland Chamber of Commerce, are part of the candidate recruitment effort. The “50-50 in 2020” group is holding news conferences today in Ames, Cedar Rapids, Davenport, Des Moines, Dubuque, Iowa City, and Waterloo. Tomorrow Durham will speak at an event in Sioux City.