Iowa is one of only four states in the nation that has never sent a woman to congress, along with Delaware, Mississippi and Vermont.
Today, six women are on the ballot. Some political watchers hope this year will be the tipping point for Iowa.
“This is the best opportunity in my years here, that Iowa has ever had to elect a woman to congress,” said Dianne Bystrom, director of the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics at Iowa State University. “Often times, women run as challengers. Challengers only win 15% of the time.”
Today, six women are running for both U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives in four different primary races. Three of those races will be open seat races in the general election. “This year, I think what happened, with Senator Tom Harkin retiring, it started this domino effect,” said Bystrom.
“Women were later entrants into the political process, so there aren`t as many in the pipeline. But this is a pretty good showing this year,” said former Iowa Attorney General Bonnie Campbell. She ran for governor in 1994. While she lost at the polls, she helped pave the way for Iowa women in politics. “My own experience running for governor, I encountered the question: ‘are you tough enough to do that? To be governor, to make the hard choices?’ And then when you are tough, and you show it, then they don`t like you. That`s changing.”
She says, a number of factors are turning the tide: women are learning how to raise money, more organizations are recruiting them to run, and Iowa voters are evolving. “I really feel we`re at a tipping point. If we`re not, I`m going to be profoundly disappointed, because it’s high time.”