These 5 Women Are Key to the New Congress
Gender equality in our government still has a long way to go, but there were some important elections for women this month. Here are 5 recently elected congresswomen to watch.
1. Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa)
Our list starts with a first — Joni Ernst, the senator-elect from Iowa, is both the first woman to represent Iowa in the United States Congress and the first female veteran in the U.S. Senate. Ernst, a lieutenant colonel, has served 21 years between the Army Reserve and the National Guard. Her service includes a 14-month deployment in Kuwait in 2003-2004, during which she was a company commander as a part of Operation Iraqi Freedom. After her service, Ernst was elected the Montgomery County Auditor in 2004; she was re-elected in 2008.
In 2011, Ernst joined the Iowa State Senate after winning a special election, and was subsequently re-elected to that seat in 2012. In the Iowa Stat Senate, Ernst served on the Appropriations, Education, Health and Human Services, and Veterans Affairs, Rules, and Administration committees. Ernst supports repealing Obamacare, gun rights, and federal tax reform and campaigned on these and other conservative positions.
2. Rep. Mia Love (R-Utah)
Blazing another trail, Rep. Mia Love first female African American Republican to be elected to Congress. The former mayor of Saratoga Springs, Utah, will also be the first Haitian American in Congress. Love’s parents were immigrants from Haiti, and she was born in Brooklyn, NY. Another unique factor about Love is that she is a practicing Mormon. One of Love’s big accomplishments as mayor of Saratoga Springs was reducing the city’s shortfall during the economic downturn from $3.5 million to $779,000.
Love came to national attention when she spoke at the GOP’s convention in 2012. She ran for Congress for the first time in 2012, when she just barely lost to Democratic incumbent Jim Matheson by 768 votes — when there were 245,277 votes cast. This year, she beat out Democrat Doug Owens and earned 50% of the popular vote.
3. Rep. Gwen Graham (D-Fla.)
In an election that went mostly red, Democrat Gwen Graham made a rare victory by unseating a Republican (Rep. Steve Southerland) in the House. She is a lawyer and worked as an in-house attorney for her local school district. Her political history includes working on presidential campaigns for Howard Dean and John Kerry. But her win is made more impressive by how little political background she has, and yet she still beat out an incumbent. She campaigned on budget, job creation, and being a voice for the middle class.
4. Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY)
Newly elected Rep. Elise Stefanik is 30 years old and the youngest woman to be elected to Congress. Stefanik defeated Democratic incumbent Aaron Woolf in New York’s 21st Congressional District. Her political career has White House roots — at 22, she was a staff assistant for President George W. Bush’s administration. Karl Zimsmeister, then-head of the President’s Domestic Policy Council, hired her, and she spent a year as one of his staffers before joining the office of the White House Chief of Staff. Leaving the White House when the Obama administration took over, Stefanik went on to co-founded Defending Defense, a group of think tanks that opposed the Defense sequestration that would happen as a result of the Budget Control Act of 2011. She then worked for the Republican party during the 2012 presidential campaign.
5. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.)
Sen. Elizabeth Warren is one of the most well known Democratic senators. The sitting senator from Massachusetts, Warren was recently appointed by Majority Leader Harry Reid to become the first Strategic Advisor of the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee, a position created for her. The Washington Times notes of this appointment, “Some liberal groups say Democratic Party losses in the midterm elections partly were due to candidates not embracing Ms. Warren’s positions — such as tighter restrictions on Wall Street and an expansion of entitlement programs — forcefully enough.”
Warren was named one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World in 2009 and 2010, when she was chair of the TARP Congressional Oversight Committee, the committee charged with overseeing how the U.S. Treasury managed the $700 billion bank bailout. Warren first joined the senate in 2012, defeating incumbent Republican Scott Brown. She was the first woman ever elected to the U.S. Senate from Massachusetts. In December 2012, Warren joined the Senate Banking Committee, where she was noticed for her hard lines of questioning. Warren has been speculated about as a possible 2016 presidential candidate.