COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Once she clinches the Democratic presidential nomination, Hillary Clinton will turn to Ohio female elected officials to help make the case for America’s first female president in the battleground state.
But it’s actually Ohio Republicans who have put more women in high places.
Ohio’s only female governor, Nancy Hollister, served 11 days in 1999 — between the terms of two men. Ohio’s also seen four female lieutenant governors and a woman chief justice, all also Republican.
Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, a Clinton superdelegate who will join her campaign efforts, said women are still significantly underrepresented in Ohio politics in both parties — and Clinton’s presidential run can support improvements.
Some 13 mayors among Ohio’s hundreds of cities, towns and villages are women, according to data assembled by The Associated Press.
“That’s great. That’s still pretty low,” Whaley said.
There are more women than men in the U.S., but women account for just a fifth of all U.S. representatives and senators, according to a nationwide analysis by the AP. They serve as governors in six states and are mayors in roughly 19 percent of the nation’s largest cities.
In Ohio, women hold 32 of the 132 seats in the state Legislature. That’s about 25 percent, which is on par with state legislatures nationally. Ohio has never sent a woman to the U.S. Senate.
“We still have a long way to go,” said Whaley, who was attending the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia on Monday. “We’re half the population. We’re still trying to support each other and support other women running for office.”
She credited former Ohio House Speaker Jo Ann Davidson with spearheading successful efforts on the Republican side to recruit and retain female candidates. Davidson, 88, launched her Ohio Leadership Institute in 2000. Whaley said there are more Republicans in office overall, so that’s another contributing factor to the party having more women.
Clinton’s presumed nomination comes at the start of a second generation of female politicians who the campaign hopes will be energized by her run, Whaley said. The first generation of women in politics entered the field after raising children, she said, while younger women are now looking at it as a lifelong career.