More women running in Ky. state legislative races in 2014

01/28/2014 09:44 PM

Within a half-hour of each other, three Democratic women filed their paperwork to run in state legislative races Tuesday — the last day for Republican and Democratic candidates to file with the secretary of state.

All three had gone through the Emerge Kentucky program, a training program for women looking to get into politics. With Emerge chairman Jennifer Moore looking on like a proud coach, the three signed their paperwork and handed it in one after another: Audrey Haydon, who is running for the 50th House District in Nelson County, Jacqueline Coleman, running in 55th House District in Jessamine and Mercer counties, and Kathy Warnecke Ryan, who just began the Emerge program, filed to run in the 12th state Senate District.

The Republicans have a similar group, called the Republican Women’s Roundtable, that held a session this fall in Louisville.

Women increased their presence in state legislative races across Kentucky, buoyed in part by candidate training programs on both sides of the aisle, such as Emerge. But women still will make up less than 20 percent of all state legislative candidates in 2014.

Thirty-six of the 186 candidates who have filed for state House seats are women. And seven of the 35 candidates for state Senate are women. Combined, they make up 19.5 percent. That’s up from 2010 — the last time even-numbered state Senate seats were up for re-election — when 15.2 percent of the 230 state legislative candidates who filed to run in primaries.

Overall, the number of candidates running for the state House in 2014 was similar to 2010. The May 20 primaries will feature 25 contested House races in 24 districts (only the 97th District in Johnson and Morgan counties features both a Republican and Democratic primary). There were 26 contested primaries in 25 districts four years ago.

But there were fewer candidates, and thus contested races, in the state Senate. Only 35 candidates in 2014 filed, creating six contested primaries. That’s half of the 12 contests in 2010.

_(This post was updated to reflect the work of a Republican group that focuses on helping prepare women candidates). _

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