Election Day 2008 guaranteed that more women than ever will serve in the 111th U.S. Congress, and on Dec. 6, Mary Jo Kilroy of Ohio claimed the right to join their ranks. Kilroy, a Democrat, was in a race too-close-to-call until provisional ballots were counted in the 15th District. She replaces Deborah Pryce, a Republican who did not seek re-election, and her victory brings the number of women in the House to 75 – 58 Democrats and 17 Republicans – four more women than the record set in the 110th Congress.
In analyzing this year’s congressional races, the Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP) at Rutgers University said that though there were not record-high numbers of women running, more nominees were positioned for winnable seats, rather than serving their parties as “sacrificial lambs.” Seventeen women – 13 Democrats and 4 Republicans – were to serve in the U.S. Senate when the next Congress convenes in January, a gain of one more woman senator. One of those seats belongs to Hillary Clinton, and will be up for grabs in January as the senator moves into her new role as Secretary of State in the Obama Administration.
Despite gains at the federal level, numbers of women in statewide government are expected to drop, though final election tallies are not yet in, according to the CAWP.