Elections for all the seats in the Virginia House of Delegates will occur this November. Though these races will not occur for months, however, they are already making waves. Indeed, in Virginia, women are running for office in record numbers, hoping to secure a seat in the legislative body. Experts, as well as many of the candidates themselves, attribute this rise in women's participation to the inspiration provided by the Women's March on Washington and to the frustration resulting from the Trump administration's anti-women policies.
Virginia's 2017 House of Delegates race will occur on November 7 and features elections for all 100 congressional districts across the state as well as elections for governor and lieutenant governor. As USA Today reported, 51 women competed in primaries for this year's House of Delegates race. That marks a significant jump from the number of women — 26 — who filed to compete in 2015. The paper also noted that Democrats need to acquire 17 seats in the race to take back control of the currently Republican-dominated House. In 10 of these 17 races where Republican seats are being contested, the challenging candidates are women, most of whom have never run for office before.
USA Today spoke with several of the women running for office for the first time and many them cited the same rationales behind their decision to run — disdain for Trump's policies and inspiration from the Women's March on Washington. For example, one candidate, Hala Ayala, noted that after the Women's March on Washington, she "felt like she needed to do more." Ayala noted that she was particularly concerned about Trump's travel ban as well as his stances on health care and reproductive rights. Another candidate, Kelly Fowler, called the Women's March " a changing day ... one of the top days of my life" and noted that the March helped inspire her to step up and decide to declare her candidacy.
Many experts believe that the increased participation of women candidates in the House of Delegates election could be indicative of a nationwide trend of more women running for office, particularly in historically conservative districts. According to Stephanie Schriock, president of Emily's List, via USA Today, " ... What's happening in Virginia, I believe, is part of a historic wave of women running in 2018 ... It's happening particularly in red and purple states where there are opportunities."
Indeed, according to the Washington Post, Schriock's organization, which recruits and trains Democratic women candidates, has heard from over 15,000 women interested in running for office since November. This marks a significant increase from the 900 women who contacted the organization during the two-year 2016 election cycle.
It will certainly be intriguing and inspiring to follow the campaigns of the women candidates for the House of Delegates in Virginia as the election draws near, as well as to see whether or not the tide of women candidates replicates itself in other races across the country.