Women Candidates Have Successes in June 9th Primaries, but Many Face Difficult General Election Prospects

 

Congressional and statewide primaries were held on Tuesday in five states: Georgia, Nevada, North Dakota, South Carolina, West Virginia. Full context about women in the 2020 elections, including candidate lists, summaries, results from previous primaries, and historical comparisons, are available via the Center for American Women and Politics’ Election Watch page.


Among the most notable results for women:

  • While women won nominations in many congressional and statewide executive primaries on Tuesday, few non-incumbent women candidates will be competitive in November. Exceptions include:
    • Former Representative Karen Handel (R) will challenge incumbent Representative Lucy McBath (D) in Georgia’s 6th congressional district. McBath defeated Handel in 2018 by 1 point (just over 3,000 votes). This all-woman contest is currently rated as a toss-up by Cook Political Report.
    • State Representative Nancy Mace (R) will challenge incumbent Representative Joe Cunningham (D) in South Carolina’s 1st congressional district, which is currently rated as a toss-up by Cook Political Report (Cunningham flipped the U.S. House seat from Republican to Democrat in 2018). If Mace is elected in November, she will be the first Republican woman in Congress from South Carolina as well as the first woman since 1993 to represent South Carolina in Congress.
  • Women are also in some key runoff contests to watch in Georgia.
    • Carolyn Bourdeaux and Brenda Lopez Romero will compete in an August runoff for the Democratic nomination in Georgia’s 7th congressional district, an open-seat contest. In 2018, Bourdeaux lost to incumbent Representative Rob Woodall (R) by just 300 votes. This general election contest is currently rated as a toss-up by Cook Political Report.
    • Marjorie Greene will compete in the August runoff for the Republican nomination in Georgia’s 14th congressional district, another open-seat contest. This general election contest is currently rated as “Solid Republican” by Cook Political Report.
  • Dr. Shelley Lenz (D) became the first woman to win a gubernatorial nomination in 2020. She was unopposed in the Democratic primary for governor of North Dakota. Lenz will challenge incumbent Governor Doug Burgum (R), who is strongly favored to win re-election this fall.

Georgia

Nevada

North Dakota

South Carolina

West Virginia



Georgia

U.S. Senate

Both U.S. Senate seats in Georgia are up for election this year. In addition to the regularly-scheduled re-election contest for incumbent Senator David Perdue (R), incumbent Senator Kelly Loeffler (R) – who was appointed to the U.S. Senate by Governor Brian Kemp (R) in late 2019 (and sworn in January 2020) – is running in a special U.S. Senate election to complete former Senator Johnny Isakson’s (R) term (through 2022). Georgia’s special election for the U.S. Senate will not happen until November 3, 2020, when all candidates – Republicans and Democrats – will compete in a jungle primary.

On Tuesday, candidates ran in the Democratic primary to challenge Senator David Perdue (R), who was unopposed in the Republican primary, this November. 4 (4D) women were defeated in the Democratic primary.

No Democratic woman has served in the U.S. Senate from Georgia since 1922, when Rebecca Latimer Felton was appointed to fill a vacancy and served for one day in 1922. She was the first woman ever to serve in the U.S. Senate.

U.S. House

Women are currently 1 (1D) of 14 members of the Georgia delegation to the U.S. House (7.1%).

Women are 8 (4D, 4R) of 22 (36.4%) major-party nominees already selected for U.S. House in Georgia, including 4 of 10 (40%) Democrats and 4 of 12 (33.3%) Republicans. Another 7 (6D, 1R) women have advanced to runoff elections on August 11, 2020 in 5 congressional primaries. 13 (5D, 8R) women House candidates were unsuccessful in their primary bids for the U.S. House.

  • Incumbent Representative Lucy McBath (D) was unopposed in her primary and will run for re-election in Georgia’s 6th congressional district. She will be challenged by former Representative Karen Handel (R), who held the seat from 2017-2018 (she won a special election in 2017) and was defeated by McBath in 2018 by 1 point (just over 3,000 votes). This race is considered a toss-up by Cook Political Report.
  • 7 (3D, 4R) women, including Handel, will run as challengers to incumbents in November. All but Handel (R) are running in general election contests that strongly favor their opponents.
    • Johsie Cruz (R) was unopposed in the Republican primary to challenge incumbent Representative Hank Johnson (D) in Georgia’s 4th congressional district. This contest is rated as “Solid Democratic” by Cook Political Report.
    • Angela Stanton-King (R) was unopposed in the Republican primary to challenge incumbent Representative John Lewis (D) in Georgia’s 5th congressional district. This contest is rated as “Solid Democratic” by Cook Political Report.
    • Tabitha Johnson-Green won the Democratic nomination to challenge incumbent Representative Jody Hice (R) in Georgia’s 10th congressional district. This is a re-match of the 2018 election, where Johnson-Green lost to Hice by 26 points. This contest is rated as “Solid Republican” by Cook Political Report.
    • Dana Barrett (D) was unopposed in the Democratic primary to challenge incumbent Representative Barry Loudermilk (R) in Georgia’s 11th congressional district. This contest is rated as “Solid Republican” by Cook Political Report.
    • Liz Johnson (D) won the Democratic nomination to challenge incumbent Representative Rick Allen (R) in Georgia’s 12th congressional district. This contest is rated as “Solid Republican” by Cook Political Report.
    • Becky Hites (R) won the Republican nomination to challenge incumbent Representative David Scott (D) in Georgia’s 13th congressional district. This contest is rated as “Solid Democrat” by Cook Political Report.
  • 7 (6D, 1R) women have advanced to runoff elections on August 11, 2020 in 5 congressional primaries, including 3 open-seat contests.
    • Carolyn Bourdeaux and Brenda Lopez Romero will compete in an August runoff for the Democratic nomination in Georgia’s 7th congressional district, an open-seat contest. In 2018, Bourdeaux lost to incumbent Representative Rob Woodall (R) by just 300 votes. This general election contest is currently rated as a toss-up by Cook Political Report.
    • Marjorie Greene will compete in the August runoff for the Republican nomination in Georgia’s 14th congressional district, another open-seat contest. This general election contest is currently rated as “Solid Republican” by Cook Political Report.
    • Brooke Siskin will compete in an August runoff for the Democratic nomination in Georgia’s 9th congressional district, another open-seat contest. This general election contest is currently rated as "Solid Republican" by Cook Political Report.
    • Lisa Ring and Joyce Griggs will compete in an August runoff for the Democratic nomination in Georgia's 1st congressional district. The winner will challenge incumbent Representative Buddy Carter (R) in a contest currently rated as "Solid Republican" by Cook Political Report.
    • Keisha Waites will compete in an August runoff for the Democratic nomination in Georgia’s 13th congressional district. She is a primary challenger to incumbent Representative David Scott (D) in a district that strongly favors the Democratic nominee in November.

Of the 8 (4D, 4R) women who are already selected as major-party nominees for the U.S. House from Georgia, 5 (3D, 2R) are women of color, including 4 (3D, 1R) Black women – incumbent Representative Lucy McBath (D, GA-06), Tabitha Johnson-Green (D, GA-10), Liz Johnson (D, GA-12), and Angela Stanton-King (R, GA-05) – and 1 (1R) Latina – Johsie Cruz (R, GA-04). No Latina has ever represented Georgia in Congress. Georgia has previously sent 3 (3D) Black women to Congress: current incumbent Lucy McBath (D, 2019-Present), Denise Majette (D, 2003-2005), and Cynthia McKinney (D, 1993-2003; 2005-2007).



Nevada

U.S. House

Women are currently 2 (2D) of 4 members of the Nevada delegation to the U.S. House (50%).

Women are 4 (3D, 1R) of 8 (50%) major-party nominees for U.S. House in Nevada, including 3 of 4 (75%) Democrats and 1 of 4 (25%) Republicans. 9 (3D, 6R) women House candidates were unsuccessful in their primary bids for the U.S. House.

  • Both incumbent women representatives – Representatives Susie Lee (D) and Dina Titus (D) – won primary nominations for re-election this fall.
    • Cook Political Report currently rates Representative Titus’ race in the 1st congressional district as “Solid Democratic.”
    • Cook Political Report currently rates Representative Lee’s race in the 3rd congressional district as “Lean Democratic.” In 2018, Lee won her U.S. House seat for the first time by 9 points.
  • Patricia Ackerman won the Democratic primary in Nevada's 2nd congressional district. This contest is currently rated as "Solid Republican" by Cook Political Report. 
  • Joyce Bentley won the Republican primary in Nevada's 1st congressional district to challenge incumbent Representative Dina Titus (D) in an all-woman contest where Titus is strongly favored to win re-election. Bentley identifies as Asian American and White. 



North Dakota

There were only 3 (2D, 1NP) women on the primary ballots for North Dakota’s congressional and statewide executive elections in 2020.

U.S. House

No women ran for North Dakota’s at-large U.S. House district in 2020. The seat, currently held by Representative Kelly Armstrong (R), is rated as “Solid Republican” by Cook Political Report. No woman has ever represented North Dakota in the U.S. House.

Statewide Elected Executive Office

Women currently hold 3 (2R, 1NP) of 13 statewide elected executive offices in North Dakota (23.1%). Seven of those offices are up for election this year: governor, lieutenant governor, treasurer, state auditor, commissioner of insurance, public service commissioner, and superintendent of public instruction. While there are 3 public service commissioners who are elected statewide, just one of those seats is up for election in 2020.

Women are 3 (2D, 1NP) of 14 (21.4%) major-party and non-partisan nominees for statewide executive offices in North Dakota, including 2 of 6 (33.3%) Democrats, 1 of 2 (50%) non-partisan nominees, 0 of 6 (0%) Republicans. No women candidates were unsuccessful in their primary bids for statewide executive offices.

  • Incumbent Superintendent of Public Instruction Kirsten Baesler (NP) was the leading vote-getter in the non-partisan primary for her office; she will proceed to the general election.
  • Dr. Shelley Lenz (D) was unopposed in the Democratic primary for Governor of North Dakota. Lenz will challenge Incumbent Governor Doug Burgum (R), who is strongly favored to win re-election this fall.
  • Travisia Martin (D) was unopposed in the Democratic primary to challenge incumbent Insurance Commissioner Jon Godfread (R). No woman has ever been elected as Insurance Commissioner of North Dakota. If elected, Martin – who is Black – would also be the first woman of color elected statewide in North Dakota. 



South Carolina

U.S. Senate

No women ran for the U.S. Senate in South Carolina this year to challenge incumbent Senator Lindsey Graham (R). No woman has served in the U.S. Senate from South Carolina.

U.S. House

There are no women currently serving in South Carolina’s 7-member delegation to the U.S. House.

Women are 4 (3D, 1R) of 14 (28.6%) major-party nominees for U.S. House in South Carolina, including 3 of 7 (42.9%) Democrats and 1 of 7 (14.3%) Republicans. 1 (1R) woman House candidate was unsuccessful in her primary bid for the U.S. House. All 4 (3D, 1R) women U.S. House nominees from South Carolina will run as challengers to incumbents in November.

  • State Representative Nancy Mace (R) won the Republican nomination in South Carolina’s 1st congressional district, which is currently rated as a toss-up by Cook Political Report. She will challenge incumbent Representative Joe Cunningham (D), who flipped the U.S. House seat from Republican to Democrat in 2018. If elected in November, Mace will be the first Republican woman in Congress from South Carolina as well as the first woman since 1993 to represent South Carolina in Congress.
  • 3 (3D) women will run as challengers to incumbents in districts that strongly favor their opponents.
    • Adair Burroughs (D) was unopposed in the Democratic primary to challenge incumbent Representative Joe Wilson (R) in South Carolina’s 2nd congressional district. This contest is currently rated as “Solid Republican” by Cook Political Report.
    • Kim Nelson (D) was unopposed in the Democratic primary to challenge incumbent Representative Bill Timmons (R) in South Carolina’s 4th congressional district. This contest is currently rated as “Solid Republican” by Cook Political Report.
    • Melissa Watson (D) won the Democratic nomination to challenge incumbent Representative Tom Rice (R) in South Carolina’s 7th congressional district. This contest is currently rated as “Solid Republican” by Cook Political Report.

Of the 4 (3D, 1R) women who are major-party nominees for the U.S. House from South Carolina, only Melissa Watson (D) – who is Black – is a woman of color. If elected, Watson would be the first woman of color to represent South Carolina in the U.S. Congress.



West Virginia

U.S. Senate

Incumbent Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R) is the only woman who has served in the U.S. Senate from West Virginia. She has served since 2015 and is up for re-election this year.

Capito (R) won the Republican nomination and is strongly favored to keep her seat in November. She will be challenged by Paula Jean Swearengin (D) in an all-woman contest. Swearengin also ran for the U.S. Senate in 2018, challenging Senator Joe Manchin (D) in the Democratic primary; she lost by 40 points.

Capito previously served in the U.S. House from 2001 to 2015.

U.S. House

Women are currently 1 (1R) of 3 members of the West Virginia delegation to the U.S. House (33.3%).

As of Wednesday morning, women are 3 (2D, 1R) of 5 (60%) major-party nominees for U.S. House in West Virginia, including 2 of 2 (100%) Democrats and 1 of 3 (33.3%) Republicans. 1 (1D) woman remains in the Democratic primary in West Virginia’s 3rd congressional district, which is too close to call.

  • Incumbent Representative Carol Miller (R) is running for re-election. She was the only Republican woman running for the U.S. House from West Virginia this year. Miller is strongly favored to win re-election; West Virginia’s 3rd congressional district seat is rated as “Solid Republican” by Cook Political Report. 
  • 2 (2D) women will run as challengers to incumbents in districts that strongly favor their opponents.
    • Natalie Cline (D) won the Democratic primary to challenge incumbent Representative David McKinley (R) in West Virginia’s 3rd congressional district. This contest is currently rated as “Solid Republican” by Cook Political Report.
    • Cathy Kunkel (D) was unopposed in the Democratic primary to challenge incumbent Representative Alex Mooney (R) in West Virginia’s 2nd congressional district. This contest is currently rated as “Solid Republican” by Cook Political Report.

All women congressional nominees in West Virginia are White. West Virginia has never sent a woman of color to Congress.

Statewide Elected Executive Office

Women currently hold 0 of 6 statewide elected executive offices in West Virginia. Each of those offices are up for election this year: governor, attorney general, secretary of state, treasurer, state auditor, and commissioner of agriculture.

Women are 2 (2D) of 12 (16.7%) major-party nominees for statewide executive offices in West Virginia, including 2 of 6 (33.3%) Democrats and 0 of 6 (0%) Republicans. This includes the Democratic primary nomination for attorney general, which remains too close to call, but there are no women running in this race.

  • Former Secretary of State Natalie Tennant (D) was unopposed in the Democratic primary for Secretary of State of West Virginia. Tennant will challenge incumbent Secretary of State Mac Warner (R) to reclaim the office she held from 2009 to 2017. To date, Tennant is the only Democratic woman to win statewide elected office in West Virginia. 
  • Mary Ann Claytor (D) was unopposed in the Democratic primary to challenge incumbent State Auditor JB McCuskey (R). No woman has ever been elected as State Auditor of West Virginia. If elected, Claytor – who is Black – would also be the first woman of color elected statewide in West Virginia.
  • Shelby Jean Fitzhugh (R), the only woman candidate running for Governor of West Virginia, was unsuccessful in her primary bid. No woman has ever served as Governor of West Virginia.

There were no women candidates for attorney general, commissioner of agriculture, or state treasurer in West Virginia.