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Gains and Losses for Women in NJ Politics [AUDIO]

There is a record number of female candidates running for the State Senate and Assembly in November. But the news is not all good in the battle for equal representation for women in New Jersey.

65 women will be running this year. There are female candidates in 17 of Jersey’s 40 State Senate races and 33 in the Assembly contests. But Debbie Walsh, Director of the Rutgers Center for American Women and Politics says we have seen real improvement in the State of New Jersey. She says the hope now is that we can hold on to it in the face of the six women stepping down from the Legislature. And Walsh adds, “not every race is truly competitive, so while some candidates are heavily favored, others face tough battles in November.”

Walsh says it means the race to increase the number of women in the Statehouse will start with that half of the population down by a half-dozen. Nevertheless, the state has seen great improvements in equal representation, going from 43rd a few years ago to 12th right now.

New Jersey legislative elections take place according to an irregular pattern, with Senators elected in years ending in 1, 3 and 7 while Assembly members run every two years. The earlier records were set in 2007, the most recent year completely comparable to 2011, when there were races for Senate and Assembly but not for Governor. The most women ever to serve in Trenton was 36 (30 percent), a peak achieved in 2009 with 8 Senators and 28 Assemblywomen.

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