More than Just a Battleground State: Nevada Women in Politics Look to Make History in the Midterm

October 16, 2018

Nevadans have the ability this election season to elect the first ever female majority statehouse in the legislature. Kaitlyn Olvera reports with data visualization by Nick Eng.


 HuffPost recently hosted the “Nevada Leads the Way for Women in Politics” panel at the University of Nevada, Reno. Photo by Kaitlyn Olvera.


From Purple to Pink?


The Silver State, in recent years has been purple, with each election either making the state swing towards red or blue. Nevada is even garnering attention from national media, as MSNBC hosted one of five of their stops for their Battleground College Tour at the University of Nevada, Reno just last week.



Reynold’s Sandbox reporters meet and interview MSNBC correspondent, Katy Tur, as she visits the University of Nevada for the network’s “Battleground College Tour”. Photo provided to Reynolds Sandbox.


Nevada may be a smaller state, but it’s proven to be a contradicting one, which is one reason why experts say there’s a good chance Nevada’s voters could make history on November 6.


What Will it Take?



Currently, women make up 40% of the entire state’s legislature, according to Ballot Pedia. With the current races, potentially 38% of Nevada’s Assembly could be made up of women, and 14% of women could make up the Senate. Data Visualization by Nick Eng.


Anjeanette Damon, the Reno Gazette-Journal’s political reporter said in the panel that Nevada being the first state to possibly make history happen with a majority female legislature isn’t all too surprising, but it might not be too easy either.


“We’ve had a lot of success in recent years with a female majority [with] the Washoe County Commission, Reno City Council … but there’s still some of those glass ceilings that have yet to be broken here,” she said.


Why ‘women’ now? What makes this 2018 election different than any other in the past?


Sue Wagner, the first female lieutenant governor elected in Nevada, told the panel that she’s seen a considerable change in women in politics, since she first ran in 1984.


“[There’s a] different perception that women are capable, that was not that was not there when I first became a lobbyist in Nevada,” Wagner said.


“I think you will see women out voting because they feel like perhaps Congress is not listening to their concerns,” Hannah Jackson, female student body president of the University, said. Photo by Lucia Starbuck.


Female Leadership at the Student Level


ASUN President, Hannah Jackson says in ASUN’s 120-year history, she’s only the seventh elected female president. This year, ASUN’s Senate is majority female. There are a variety of factors as to why women don’t run for office, but Jackson says a big one is representation.


“From the time that you’re really young and being able to see someone that looks like you … that role is really important and setting goals and expectations for yourself,” says Jackson.


“This is overdue for the nation. Right on Nevada! Let’s see if we can lead the way [and] show that a female majority isn’t going to change much. It’s incremental change, so I think it’s good for the state and it’s good for the country.” — Political Science professor, Jennifer Ring. Photo by Kaitlyn Olvera.


Long Overdue?


Jennifer Ring, a professor of Political Science at the University of Nevada, says it’s surprising that this could be the first time in history for a state legislature to be majority female, as women do make up more than half of the population. She says the problem stems from women not having a long history of being in power.


“We’re new to it and that means, I’m not sure I don’t have any scientific basis for saying this but, I think we’re less corrupt so far. That doesn’t mean we’re not completely corruptible, but we don’t come with a baggage that male leadership does,” Ring said.


Of course, it will be voters who determine if Nevada makes history on November 6. Assemblywoman for District 27, Teresa Benitez-Thompson, who is running for re-election, stressed at the HuffPost event that now is the time to vote.


“I would challenge you and respectfully ask you to be cognitive, and direct yourself to what is happening in the states. We have so much room for change here in our own backyard, so much work to do,” she said.


Reporting by Kaitlyn Olvera and Nick Eng for Reynolds Sandbox


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