* We’ve discussed this topic before, but here’s a new story from Illinois Public Radio…
A website that popped up this month asks a question as its URL: arethereanywomenrunningforilgovernor.com. It then very simply answers it with a bright red “NO.” A group of professional women in the state are behind the effort to draw attention to the issue.
Kady McFadden is the deputy director of the Illinois Sierra Club. She’s one of the people behind the site. She says the idea came up over dinner with several other women who also hold powerful positions. “It sort of felt like the elephant in the room that we needed to address - and the first thing we wanted to talk about before we could dive into the race itself. As colleagues - as female colleagues that work in politics, that care about issues in our state, it was one of the first things on our minds,” says McFadden.
* And here’s Katelynd Duncan writing in Crain’s…
For the past 10 years, I have worked with candidates across the state of Illinois running for local and statewide office. Over and over again, I have seen donors who are reluctant to give money and campaign resources to female candidates. Research has shown us that, when women decide to run, they are elected and re-elected at the same rate as their male counterparts. However, with the epic spending no longer limited to the “sexy” top-tier offices such as president, Senate or gubernatorial races, down-ballot races cost more than ever.
The Chicago Sun-Times recently reported that the governor’s race here in Illinois is averaging about $120,000 spent per day. There are still 18 months until the election—a race for a single office that, according to Politico, is on track to become the most expensive statewide contest in U.S. history, possibly topping a record $300 million.
So what does this all mean? It means that consultants, candidates and donors need to adapt and evolve. Fast. Gender aside, the traditional donor pool cannot keep up with this level of campaign spending and raise enough money to win. The bar of fundraising expectations has been raised to a level that renders potentially viable candidates—not just women, but especially women—irrelevant if they don’t have the resources to run.
That’s where we step in. Not only do we need to build a pipeline of talent at the local level—we need to give them checks. Change starts at home, and we need more women to run for local school boards, public libraries and boards of commissioners. We need to donate to them, too.
While bipartisan campaign finance reform is a pipe dream, donating to women candidates can be a reality. There are currently dozens of women running for office in Illinois right now, each one an opportunity to invest in the future of our state.
And until we start making that investment, we surely will have the same male candidates over and over again.