Press Releases

Denise W. Merrill Secretary of the State Connecticut - Seal


Secretary Merrill Releases Women Candidate Report, Hosts Panel Discussion

Report finds that when women run for office, they win at the same rate as men

(HARTFORD) - As part of the Centennial Celebration of Women's Suffrage, Secretary of the State Denise Merrill today released a report which analyzes five decades of data about women running for office in Connecticut. It looks at the number of women holding statewide and federal office, their success rates, their party affiliations over the decades, and where the representation of women in Connecticut stands today.

Among other conclusions, the report found that when women run for office, they win at the same rate as men.

"The hope" said Secretary Merrill "is that this report will start a conversation about how far we’ve come in terms of women's representation, where we are now, and what's left to be done."

"Even today, only 35% of candidates in Connecticut are women - we need to change that. So, to those women contemplating a first run for office, or a second or a third or a fourth, consider this your official ask: run for office."

As part of the release of this report the Secretary hosted a panel discussion moderated by Connecticut Public Radio's Lucy Nalpathanchil with panelists Minority Leader Themis Klarides, Executive Director of the Campaign School at Yale Patti Russo, and Director of the Reflective Democracy Campaign Brenda Choresi Carter.

“We have made great strides over the last 50 years of women getting involved in public service, running for office and winning here in Connecticut. But we have a ways to go before we see our government truly reflect our electorate. I am confident that time will come through hard work and perseverance’’ said Representative Klarides.

"The American political system was not built to include women—nor was it built to include people of color" said Brenda Choresi Carter. "The gains we’ve made, including the right to vote, were the result of decades of hard work, organizing, and changing the system. Even with all the victories of the last 100 years, men still hold over 2/3 of elected offices—and white men hold 62%. Creating a democracy that truly reflects the American people requires us to continue to challenge the systems and structures that were built to exclude us."

Patricia Russo said "I applaud the Secretary of State Denise Merrill’s leadership on this report, which celebrates the many successes of CT women running for office and also provides an important roadmap on ways in which we can assure women comprise 50% of the state legislature. We’ll get there by examining and eliminating the barriers that women continue to face, and providing the tools critical to inspiring more and more women into the political pipeline.”

Released alongside the report are "trading cards" that highlight many of the women who broke barriers to elected office in Connecticut, as well as excel documents with the full data set analyzed in the report. Those materials can be found here.

The report will be supplemented with data after the 2020 election to include a full 50-year (1970-2020) period.

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