Congressional and statewide primaries were held on Tuesday in five states: Alabama, Arkansas, California, North Carolina, and Texas. Full context about women in the 2020 elections, including candidate lists, summaries, and historical comparisons, is available via the Center for American Women and Politics’ (CAWP) Election Watch.
Among the most notable results for women:
- North Carolina has the potential to increase the representation of women in its congressional delegation. 2 (2D) women are nominees in districts currently represented by men that are favored to flip from Republican to Democratic control, and 1 (1R) woman advanced to a runoff in the solidly Republican district currently represented by Mark Meadows.
- Though a large number of races remain too close to call in Texas, the state also has the potential to increase the number of women it sends to Congress. In the 24th congressional district, the race to replace retiring Kenny Marchant will be decided between two women, and 1 (1D) woman is running in an open seat race to replace a retiring congressman in a district that is rated as leaning Democrat.
- Arkansas currently has zero women in its congressional delegation. While two Democratic women advanced in uncontested primaries, those districts are rated solidly Republican, meaning Arkansas will almost assuredly continue to have no women in Congress in 2021.
- The lone Republican woman in the Alabama congressional delegation, Martha Roby, is retiring this year and the women running for the Republican nomination were defeated in the primary. As a result, Alabama will send no GOP women to Congress in 2021. (Current Democratic congresswoman from Alabama Terri Sewell ran unopposed in the primary and has no Republican opponent in the fall.)
- Many races in California remain too close to call, but women are currently 34 of 98 (34.7%) nominees for U.S. House that have already been determined as of March 24th.
- Just 1 (1R) woman – Ruth Page Nelson – was on the ballot for the U.S. Senate in Alabama this year. She lost her bid to challenge Democratic incumbent Senator Doug Jones in November.
- 2 (2D) women have served in the U.S. Senate from Alabama, though both were appointed to fill a vacancy caused by resignation or death, and neither served more than one year: Maryon Pittman Allen (D) served from June to November 1978 and Dixie Bibb Graves (D) served from August 1937 to January 1938. No woman has been elected to the Senate from Alabama.
Women are currently 2 (1D, 1R) of 7 members of the Alabama delegation to the U.S. House.
Women candidates secured 3 of 8 (37.5%) major-party nominations for U.S. House seats decided in Alabama on March 3rd. Women are 3 of 4 (75%) Democratic nominees for U.S. House and 0 of 4 (0%) Republican nominees for the U.S. House in Alabama. Of the 6 (2D, 4R) candidates advancing to runoff elections on July 14, 2020, 1 (1D) – Kiani Gardner (D, AL-01) – is a woman.
- Incumbent Representative Martha Roby (R), one of just 13 Republican women in the U.S. House, did not run for re-election this year in Alabama’s 2nd congressional district. While 2 Republican women sought the nomination to replace her this year, they were defeated in the primary election. As a result, Alabama is sure to have no Republican women in Congress in 2021.
- Phyllis Harvey-Hall (D) won the Democratic nomination in Alabama’s 2nd congressional district, an open seat created by Roby’s retirement that strongly favors the Republican nominee according to Cook Political Report.
- Incumbent Representative Terri Sewell (D) was unopposed in her primary bid for re-election in Alabama’s 7th congressional district. She has no Republican opponent this fall.
- Adia Winfrey (D) was unopposed in her bid for the Democratic nomination in Alabama’s 3rd congressional district. She will challenge incumbent Representative Mike Rogers (R) in a general election in which Rogers is strongly favored to win according to Cook Political Report.
All 3 (3D) women nominees for the U.S. House from Alabama are Black women. In addition, Kiani Gardner (D) – who will advance to the Democratic primary runoff election in Alabama’s 1st congressional district – identifies as Asian/Pacific Islander.
Statewide Elected Executive Office
Just one statewide elected executive office is up for election in Alabama in 2020: Public Service Commissioner. Incumbent Twinkle Cavanaugh (R) won the Republican nomination for re-election. She will be challenged by Laura Casey (D), who won the Democratic nomination on March 3rd.
While women will be 100% of major-party candidates for statewide elected executive office on the ballot in November, they are just 2 of 10 (20%) statewide elected executive officeholders in Alabama today: Governor Kay Ivey (R) and Public Service Commission Twinkle Cavanaugh (R).
There were no women candidates for the U.S. Senate in Arkansas this year. Incumbent Senator Tom Cotton ran uncontested in the Republican primary and Democrats did not put forth any candidate to be Cotton’s challenger in the general election.
2 (2D) women have served in the U.S. Senate from Arkansas: Blanche Lincoln (D) served from 1999 to 2010 and Hattie Wyatt Caraway (D) served from 1931 to 1944. While first appointed to office, Caraway became the first woman to be elected to the U.S. Senate in 1932.
Arkansas is currently one of 12 states with no women in their congressional delegation. No woman has served in the U.S. House from Arkansas since Blanche Lincoln’s term ended in January 1997.
In 2020, Women are 2 of 7 (28.6%) major-party nominees for U.S. House in Arkansas, including 2 of 3 (66.7%) Democrats and 0 of 4 (0%) Republicans. Each of these U.S. House primary candidates was uncontested in their bids for nomination.
- The 2 Democratic women nominees will challenge Republican incumbents in districts deemed to be solidly Republican by Cook Political Report, including: Joyce Elliott (AR-02) and Celeste Williams (AR-03).
Joyce Elliott (D, AR-02), who identifies as Black, is the only woman of color nominee for the U.S. House. Arkansas has never sent a woman of color to the U.S. Congress.
There are no statewide executive elections in Arkansas this year.
Women are currently 17 (17D) of 53 members of the CA delegation to the U.S. House.
Women are 35 of 106 (33%) nominees for U.S. House already selected in California. Of the 35 (25D, 10R) nominees already selected, 16 (16D) are incumbents, 4 (4D) will run for open seats, and 15 (5D, 10R) will run as challengers to incumbents in November.
- Of the 15 (5D, 10R) women challengers already nominated, only 2 (2R) are running in districts deemed competitive by Cook Political Report: Young Kim (R, CA-39), who was the Republican nominee in 2018 and lost by 3 points to Democrat Gil Cisneros, and Michelle Steel (R, CA-48). Both women identify as Asian/Pacific Islander.
- In the 4 open seat contests where women are running (CA-08, CA-25, CA-50, CA-53), 4 (4D) women candidates have secured a nomination thus far; Sara Jacobs (D) and Georgette Gomez (D) have advanced to the general election to replace Representative Susan Davis in California's 53rd congressional district, ensuring that a woman will fill that seat. Jacobs ran for the U.S. House in 2018 in California's 49th congressional district, but did not advance to the general election. In California's 25th congressional district, current California Assemblywoman Christy Smith (D) has advanced to the general election to fill the vacancy created by Representative Katie Hill's (D) resignation last year. Both women are running in districts that favor Democrats. Christine Bubser (D) has advanced to the general election in California's 8th congressional district, which currently favors Republicans according to Cook Political Report.
- Results are still too close to call for remaining women candidates in open seat contests.
- 2 (1D, 1R) women were on the ballot for the U.S. Senate in North Carolina this year. They were both defeated in their respective party primaries. Incumbent Senator Thom Tillis (R) will run for re-election in November in a contest currently deemed leaning Republican by Cook Political Report.
- Just two women have served in the U.S. Senate from North Carolina: Kay Hagan (D) served from 2009-2014 and Elizabeth Dole (R) served from 2003-2008.
Women are currently 2 (1D, 1R) of 13 members of the North Carolina delegation to the U.S. House.
Women are 7 of 25 (28%) major-party nominees for U.S. House already selected in North Carolina, including 5 of 13 (38.5%) Democrats and 2 of 12 (16.7%). One more woman – Lynda Bennett – has advanced to the runoff Republican primary election on May 12th. 5 (3D, 2R) women House candidates were unsuccessful in their primary bids for the U.S. House.
- Both incumbent women – Republican Virginia Foxx (NC-05) and Democrat Alma Adams (NC-12) will be nominees in November and both are strongly favored for re-election according to Cook Political Report.
- 2 (2D) women are nominees for open seats in two districts (NC-02 and NC-06) that are currently favored to flip from Republican to Democrat in November. Both Democratic women nominees – Kathy Manning (NC-06) and Deborah Ross (NC-02) – previously ran and won nominations for the U.S. Congress, but were unsuccessful in general elections.
- 3 (2D, 1R) women will challenge incumbents in districts where those incumbents are favored to win according to Cook Political Report: Sandra Smith (R, NC-01), Patricia Timmons-Goodson (D, NC-08), and Cynthia Wallace (D, NC-09).
- In North Carolina’s 11th District, Lynda Bennett (R) was 1 of 2 women in a 12-person field for the Republican nomination to replace retiring Representative Mark Meadows (R). She will advance to the runoff election in May, already having the endorsement of the incumbent. This race is currently rated as solidly Republican by Cook Political Report, indicating another potential gain for women in North Carolina’s congressional delegation.
Of the 7 women who are major-party nominees for the U.S. House from North Carolina, 3 (3D) are Black women: incumbent Representative Alma Adams (NC-12), Cynthia Wallace (NC-09), and Patricia Timmons-Goodson (NC-08).
Statewide Elected Executive Office
Women are currently 3 (2D, 1R) of 10 statewide elected executive officials in North Carolina. All 10 offices, including governor, are up for election in 2020.
This year, women are 6 of 19 (31.6%) major-party nominees for statewide elected executive offices already selected in North Carolina, including 5 of 9 (55.6%) Democrats and 1 of 10 (10%) Republicans. 2 (2D) more women will compete in the Democratic primary runoff election for Lieutenant Governor. 7 (2D, 5R) women candidates were unsuccessful in their primary bids for statewide elected executive offices.
- Both Democratic incumbents will run for re-election in November; Secretary of State Elaine Marshall (D) was uncontested in the primary State Auditor Beth Wood (D) won the Democratic nomination.
- Republican Incumbent Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry (R) did not run for re-election this year. She is the only Republican woman ever elected to statewide executive office in North Carolina.
- 3 (2D, 1R) women nominees will run for open statewide elected executive offices:
- Jessica Holmes (D) was uncontested as the Democratic candidate for Commissioner of Labor.
- Jen Mangrum (D) and Catherine Truitt (R) will compete against each other this fall to become Superintendent of Public Instruction.
- Jenna Wadsworth (D) won the Democratic nomination to challenge incumbent Commissioner of Agriculture Steve Troxler (R) in November.
Of the 6 women who are major-party nominees for the statewide elected executive offices in North Carolina, 1 (1D) is a Black woman: Jessica Holmes (D), nominee for Commissioner of Labor. Yvonne Lewis Holley (D), who has advanced to the runoff to be the Democratic nominee for Lieutenant Governor, is also Black. North Carolina has never elected a woman of color to statewide elected office.
MJ Hegar has advanced to a runoff election for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate from Texas. The winner of the runoff will challenge incumbent Senator John Cornyn (R) in November in a contest deemed solidly Republican by Cook Political Report.
- Just one woman has served in the U.S. Senate from Texas: Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R) served from 1993-2012. Hegar would be the first Democratic woman elected to the Senate from Texas.
- Hegar was the Democratic nominee in Texas’ 31s congressional district in 2018; she lost to incumbent Representative John Carter by 3 points in the general election.
Women are currently 6 (5D, 1R) of 36 members of the Texas delegation to the U.S. House.
Women are 18 of 56 (32.1%) nominees for U.S. House already selected in Texas and another 12 (7D, 5R) women have advanced to runoff elections on July 14, 2020. Of the 18 (13D, 5R) nominees selected, 6 (5D, 1R) are incumbents, 10 (7D, 3R) will run as challengers to incumbents, and 2 (1D, 1R) will run for open seats in November. 41 (19D, 22R) women House candidates were unsuccessful in their primary bids for the U.S. House.
- Gina Ortiz Jones is the Democratic nominee in Texas’ 23rd congressional district, where she narrowly lost to incumbent Representative Will Hurd (R) in 2018. This year, the seat is open and is currently rated as leaning Democratic in Jones’ favor. If elected in November, Jones would be the first Asian/Pacific Islander woman in Congress from Texas as well as the first openly LGBTQ member of Congress from Texas.
- Even with a Democratic primary runoff yet to be held, we know that the general election contest for Texas’ 24th congressional district will be between 2 women. Beth Van Duyne (R) has secured the Republican nomination and 2 women will compete for the Democratic nomination in May. This open seat, though currently held by a Republican, is deemed a toss-up by Cook Political Report.
- Of the 10 (7D, 3R) women candidates already nominated to challenge incumbents in November, only 2 (1D, 1R) are running in a contest currently deemed competitive by Cook Political Report. Former state senator and gubernatorial nominee Wendy Davis (D) is will challenge incumbent Representative Chip Roy (R) in Texas’ 21st congressional district, which is currently rated as leaning Republican. Genevieve Collins (R) will challenge incumbent Representative Colin Allred (D) in Texas’ 32nd congressional district, which is currently rated as leaning Democrat.
Statewide Elected Executive Office
Cristi Craddick (R) is the only woman currently holding statewide elected executive office in Texas. She is 1 of 3 railroad commissioners. There are 9 total statewide elected executive offices in Texas.
This year, one of the three railroad commissioner offices, not Craddick’s, is up for election. It is the only statewide executive election in Texas in 2020. One woman – Chrysta Castañeda – has advanced to the Democratic primary runoff election on May 26, 2020. If successful, she will oppose Jim Wright, who defeated incumbent Railroad Commissioner Ryan Sitton in the Republican primary election.
For primary results summaries from other states and full context about women in the 2020 elections, including candidate lists, summaries, and historical comparisons, see CAWP’s Election Watch page.