EMILY's List President Discusses U.S. Democratic Women in Politics

EMILY's List President Discusses U.S. Democratic Women in Politics

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Maha Neouchy
April 23, 2014

During the third Simpson-Mineta Leaders Series (SMLS) of the spring 2014 semester, TWC interns learned about EMILY’s List, an organization that raises money to support House and Senate election campaigns for Democratic female candidates. The featured guest speaker was EMILY’s List president Stephanie Schriock who has led the organization through one of its most successful election cycles. In the last four years alone, EMILY's List has experienced unprecedented growth with membership jumping from 180,000 to a staggering three million.

 

Stephanie Schricok's Background

 

Before Stephanie became president, she was the national finance director for Howard Dean's 2004 presidential campaign. During her time with Dean's campaign, she built a lead team that revolutionized political fundraising by harnessing the power of the Internet and raised more than 52 million dollars in a Democratic primary.

 

She was then hired as the campaign manager for John Tester of Montana, whose victory helped Democrats take over the Senate. After Tester's campaign, she was sought out to manage Al Franken's senatorial campaign in Minnesota. The election ended in an extremely close vote that too close to call. She was then put in charge of managing the 12 million dollar recount operation. Recognized as a major force and leader in Democratic politics, Schriock was asked to join Emily's list in 2010.

 

Since 1985, Emily's List has focused on creating a culture of women's leadership. Schriock shared that many of the issues surrounding women in leadership today circles back to two specific questions:

 

  1. Does the problem stem from the choices women are making?
  2. Are women facing systemic limits in the choices they can make?

She shared that no matter the source of the problem, both issues can be fixed by electing more women to office. Schriock enforced that women currently serving in political office are role models for young women across the country and serve as inspiration for future leaders in the U.S.

 

EMILY's List: Initiatives and History

 

EMILY's List recruits, trains, supports, and helps Democratic women get elected to office. The organization began in 1985 and was inspired by Harriett Woods, who ran for Senate in Missouri in 1982. She was extremely close in the polls throughout her entire campaign and ventured to Washington, D.C. in hopes that she could secure funding for a $50,000 week-long statewide television buy.

 

She went to the unions and Democratic caucuses, but every group and organization responded with "no," refusing to fund her campaign mainly because she was a woman. Woods lost by a mere 26,000 votes. That is when a group of women came together to build a network in the U.S. that would help finance Democratic women and EMILY's List was born.

 

Impact

 

The 113th Congress currently has the greatest number of women serving in Congress with 59 percent of those women being EMILY's List candidates. Unfortunately, while numbers of women elected to local, state and national office are increasingly on the rise, men still outnumber women in courts, corner offices, and corporate boardrooms. And worst of all, women are still earning less than men for the same job, an estimated 77 cents on every dollar that men earn.

 

Schriock ended the SMLS with an inspiring takeaway and message for every single woman sitting in audience: "History has shown us that the key to progress for getting more women involved is getting more women involved in the fight. We need more women to run for office, to lead corporations, to be law partners. We need to give them the confidence and training to do so."

 

Student Questions

 

Tyler Boyce, a student at the University of San Diego and intern in the Office of Senator Harry Reid (D-NV), wanted clarification from Schriock regarding who the organization endorses. He asked if EMILY's List endorses just democratic women or women in general.

 

Schriock: EMILY's List was founded and continues to support only Democratic women. We felt we would have more influence inside the Democratic party structure. Our hope was that another organization would start doing the same thing on the Republican side. For a while there was The Wish List, who supported pro-choice Republican women. As the party moved to the right, this group lost power. And then there was Susan B. Anthony List, but they are anti-choice and also endorse men. When we started, there were 12 Democratic women and 11 Republican women in the House. Today, we have 60 Democratic women in the House while Republicans have 19. And they have gone from being minority to majority party, which only makes matters worse.

 

Thomas Strowe, a student at Fairleigh Dickinson University and intern in the Office of Rep. Steve King (R-IA), pointed out that "Emily's List is only concerned about electing women to government as long as they're Democratic women and it's just for the Democratic party. But if Marsha Blackburn were to be nominated by Republicans and Joe Biden became the nominee instead of Hillary Clinton, what would be your view there?"

 

Schriock: We wouldn't get engaged in that race because we only endorse Democratic women. Our mission is very clear and simple. But like as I mentioned before, we wouldn’t mind standing next to a counterpart on the other side.

 

Alicia Jonah, a graduate of Florida State University and intern at SAPAC, asked "how Emily's List proposes to engage college-aged women and young adults to become involved in the electoral system and run for positions in government?"

 

Schriock: We've gone from 180,000 to three million members in the last four years. We reached out through the digital frontier. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and emilyslist.org. We work to win campaigns. We take pride in training and recruiting women to run for office and one of our focuses has been to find young women to start running for office earlier.

 

Mariana Sanchez Vargas, a student from Gobierno del Estado de Queretaro and an intern at the Embassy of Mexico, asked Schriock about incorporating men into the work of Emily's List. She asked about the issue of "gender and equity, which people tend to think is more of a women's issue. I'd like to know about the work you're doing in regards to this topic."

 

Schriock: One of our fastest growing group of members at Emily's list is men. Men have daughters, men have wives, and all men have mothers. Today it has become more about Millennials pushing for equality. It's more of a cultural change and the more conversations that we have, the more men will want to go home and cook dinner or coach soccer. That is where we're gaining more momentum.

 

Joseph Hathaway Jr., a student at the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey and intern with the Jack Evans for DC campaign, asked Schriock about "how women can receive help and training from Emily's List if they decide to run?"

 

Schriock: You can call us, we're based in Washington, D.C. We're an organization of 68 staff members and have people calling all the time. We even have someone managing New Jersey politics specifically. You can also send requests through the website. Even if there is someone who hasn't said yes but is close, we can put them through our day-long training. 50 percent of the day is comprised of tactical training and the other 50 percent is inspiration-based training. We're looking for women across the country.

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