DemDaily: The 2021 Elections: Where Women Are Running

October 25, 2021 

Women are running for office at every level and the 2021 election, just over one week away, is no exception.

At the federal level, there are 24 female Senators (16 Democrats/8 Republicans) and 119 female members of the US House (8 Democrats/31 Republicans).


Three US House Special Elections will take place November 2nd in three districts where members passed away in office or left Congress early midterm.

In Ohio's heavily Democratic 11th Congressional District, Shontel Brown (D) and Laverne Gore (R) will face off in the general election to succeed Congresswoman Marcia Fudge.

In the historically Republican Ohio 15th CD, State Representative Allison Russo (D) and coal industry lobbyist Mike Casey (R) will face off in a general election to replace Congressman Steve Stivers (R).

Florida 20th CD: In the contest to fill the seat of the late Alcee Hastings (D), who was first elected in 1992 and who passed away in April, the primary will take place November 2, 2021 and the general election January 11, 2022.

In the solidly blue southeast district, 11 candidates are vying for the Democratic nomination, including three women: Broward County Commissioner Barbara Sharief, former County Commissioner Priscilla Taylor, and Trinity Health Care Services CEO Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick. There is no clear front runner one week out.

Nationwide, statewide female officeholders account for nine female Governors, 17 Lt. Governors, eight Attorneys General, 13 Secretaries of State, ten State Treasurers/CFOs, ten State Auditors, three State Comptrollers, nine Chief State Education Officials and 15 other state commissioners.

Hala Ayala Campaign Ad "Steps" (CLICK)


In Virginia and New Jersey, the only two gubernatorial races up this year, men are at the top of the ticket, but women are competing for the #2 slot.

In Virginia, where former Governor Terry McAuliffe (D) and Glenn Youngkin (R) are in a tight race for the Governor's mansion, two women are going head-to-head for Lt. Governor. The winner will make history as not only the first woman, but the first woman of color, in that role.

Two-term State Delegate Hala Ayala, who is of Afro-Latina, Lebanese and Irish descent, won a six-way June 8th primary with 37.64% to secure the Democratic nomination. A cybersecurity specialist, Ayala currently represents Prince William County.

An early Sears Campaign Poster

On the Republican ticket, Winsome Sears, who was selected at the May 8th GOP Convention, is a former US Marine, small businesswoman, and an "unapologetic" conservative.

The first Black Republican woman elected to the Virginia General Assembly in 2001, she left the State House to make an unsuccessful bid in 2004 for the 3rd Congressional District against Democratic Congressman Bobby Scott.

In a September 27-October 7, 2021 Christopher Newport University poll, Ayala led Sears 48% to 44%, with 8% still undecided.

It has been 12 years since a Republican won a statewide office in Virginia and all eyes are on the Commonwealth as a gauge of the Biden agenda and the first major indication of what lies ahead in 2022.

New Jersey

Incumbent Governor Phil Murphy (D) is holding a respectable lead in his reelection contest against Republican challenger and former State Assemblyman and 2017 gubernatorial candidate Jack Ciattarelli.

An October 15-18, 2021 Emerson College/PIX11 poll of likely voters, Murphy led with 50% to Ciattarelli's 44% (MOE: +/- 3.9%).

In the Garden State, where the Lt. Governor runs conjointly with the gubernatorial candidate, current Lt. Governor and former Speaker of the New Jersey General Assembly Sheila Oliver is on the ticket again with Murphy.

On the GOP ticket with Ciattarelli is Diane Allen, a journalist, nightly news anchor, and former New Jersey Senate Deputy Minority Leader. Allen also ran unsuccessfully in 2002 for the GOP US Senate nomination.

Of the country's 1972 State Senate seats (43.7% Democrat/55.3% Republican), women hold 560 (64.5% D/33.2% R) and men hold 1,412 seats (35.4% D/64.1% R). Among the 5,411 State House seats (45.1% Democrat/53.8% Republican), women hold 1,730 (66.6% D/33.2% R) compared to men with 3,681 (34.9% D/63.5% R).

State Legislature

Only three of the country's 99 state legislative chambers are holding regularly scheduled elections in 2021: the Virginia House of Delegates, and both New Jersey's legislatures.


In the Old Dominion, where all 100 State House seats are up, Democrats hold a 55-45 majority, meaning Republicans will just have to flip six seats to take back the House, which they lost in 2019.

Of the current 69 male (30D/39R) and 31 women (25D/6R) officeholders, all but 10 are running for reelection.

While both major parties are fielding a record number of female candidates, Democrats have crossed a historic threshold with women accounting for more than half of the party's House nominees -- 50 out of a total of 97.

Women To Watch: Nineteen Democratic-held legislative districts and six Republican-held seats are considered battleground races.

Open Seats: LD 50: Michelle Maldonado (D) v. Steve Pleickhardt (R), LD 66: Katie Sponsler (D) vs. Mike Cherry (R)

Democratic incumbents: LD 10: Wendy Gooditis (D) v. Nick Clemente (R), LD 13: Danica Roem (D) v. Christopher Stone (R), LD 21: Kelly Convirs-Fowler (D) v. Tanya Gould, HD 28: Joshua Cole (D) v. Tara Durant (R).

HD 31: Elizabeth Guzman (D) v Ben Baldwin (R), HD 68: Dawn Adams (D) v. Mark Earley Jr. (R), HD 73: Rodney Willet (D) v. Mary Margaret Kastelberg (R), HD 75: Roz Tyler (D) v. Otto Wachsmann (R).

HD 83: Nancy Guy (D) v. Tim Anderson (R), HD 85: Alex Askew (D) v. Karen Greenhalgh (R), HD 91: Martha Mugler (D) v. Aijalon Cordoza (R).

Republican Incumbents: HD 27: Roxann Robinson (R) v. Debra Gardner (D), HD 84: Glenn Davis (R) (R) v. Kimberly Melnyk (D), HD 96: Amanda Batten (R) v. Mark Downey (D), HD 100: Robert Bloxom Jr. (R) v. Finale Norton (D).

New Jersey

Democrats hold a supermajority in both the State Senate and House, which are both up next week. New Jersey currently ranks 25th among the 50 states for women’s representation in its state legislature, with women holding 30.8% of state legislative seats. At least 5 Asian women won primary contests. Should they win in the general election, they would become the first Asian women elected to the state legislature.

In the State Senate, Democrats hold a 25-14 majority, (with one vacancy in a formerly Republican seat). Of the 28 men and 11 women currently holding office, three are not seeking reelection.

Women To Watch: Among Democratic Incumbents, the races to watch are SD 8, where incumbent Dawn Addiego (D) is facing a high profile challenge by Jean Stanfield (R), and in SD 14, where Linda Greenstein (D) is defending her seat against Adam Elias (R). Democrat Vin Gopal is facing a formidable Republican challenger, Lori Annetta (R). Also watched: Democrat Ruth Dugan's challenge to incumbent Republican Holly Schepisi in SD 39.

In the New Jersey General Assembly, Democrats hold a 52-28 majority, with 54 men and 26 women currently holding office. Of the 80 Assembly members, 11 incumbents are not running for reelection. All told there were 61 women(39 Democrats/22 Republicans) who are running in the general election.

Some notable names: Allison Eckel (HD 8), Joann Downey (HD 11), Sadaf Jaffer (HD 16) and Annette Quijano (HD 20).

Tomorrow: The Mayors!


DemDaily: The Only Game In Town. Update on Virginia 10/19/21

DemDaily: Virginia Moves To Toss Up 9/27/21

Virginia Voter Information: Here

New Jersey Voter Information: Here

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Kimberly Scott

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Sources: Washington Post, 13NewsNow, WPTV, Washington Post, 13NewsNow, The 19th, National Conference of State Legislatures, New Jersey Globe, Ballotpedia, WPTV, Center for American Women and Politics, Wikipedia, Christopher Newport University, Emerson College

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