The first all-female congressional delegation will soon be no more.
New Hampshire in 2012 made history by sending only women to Washington, D.C., to represent it in Congress. And a female governor to boot. But the Granite State’s political egalitarianism suffered at least a partial setback Tuesday when one if its two House members, Democrat Carol Shea-Porter, lost her re-election bid.
Shea-Porter fell short against a frequent rival, former Republican Congressman Frank Guinta. This was the third straight contest between the pair, with Shea-Porter winning back her seat in 2012 after losing it to Guinta two years earlier.
Guinta will serve with Democratic Rep. Ann McLane Kuster, first elected in 2012. And with New Hampshire’s two female senators, Republican Kelly Ayotte, and Democrat Jeanne Shaheen, a former governor who withstood a fierce challenge from former Massachusetts Republican Sen. Scott Brown.
So ends New Hampshire’s two-year run as the friendliest state for female candidates. There are still two states, Mississippi and Iowa, that have never elected a woman to Congress.
Lawmakers claim that the all-women delegation has helped New Hampshire’s elected officials craft legislative compromises in a dysfunctional Congress, where female members make up just 20 of the Senate and 18.5 percent of the House. “You know, I’ve said if you can raise toddlers and teenagers then you know how to get to yes," Shea-Porter told CBS News last year. “You know how to bring people to the table. And right now in Congress, that's what voters are looking for Congress to do.”
Hillary Clinton touched on the issue in a pre-Election Day trip to New Hampshire to rally support for Shaheen. The former first lady and secretary of state — and probable 2016 Democratic presidential candidate — alluded to it at a campaign rally. “Women’s rights, here at home and around the world, are like the canary in the mine. You start taking away, you start limiting women’s rights, who’s next?”
But the news wasn’t all bad on the gender front Tuesday. “For the first time in American history, the number of women sitting in Congress will hit triple digits,” Slate reports. “Democrat Alma Adams of North Carolina won a special election for representative of the 12th Congressional District. Because it was a special election, she will be seated shortly and will not have to wait for January’s swearing-in ceremony, making her the 100th woman currently sitting in Congress.”
David Mark (@DavdiMarkDC) is a former Politico senior editor and author of the new book Dog Whistles, Walk-Backs, and Washington Handshakes: Decoding the Jargon, Slang, and Bluster of American Political Speech. His first book was Going Dirty: The Art of Negative Campaigning. Follow him on Twitter at @DavidMarkDC.