Women in Politics: Campaigning and Serving in Office

WCL Student, Caitlin Remmel, Donna Edwards (MD-4th); Connie Morella (MD-8th); and Eileen Filler-Corn ’93 (D-Fairfax).
From left to right: WCL Student, Caitlin Remmel, Connie Morella (MD-8th), Eileen Filler-Corn ’93 (D-Fairfax) and Donna Edwards (MD-4th)

On Thursday, September 6th, the Program on Law and Government partnered with the Women and the Law Program, the American Constitution Society and the Federalist Society to host a new panel, Women in Politics: Campaigning in the Year of the Woman. Moderated by WCL Student, Caitlin Remmel, the discussion included panelists former Congresswoman Donna Edwards (MD-4th); AU SPA Prof. and former Ambassador to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and Congresswoman Connie Morella (MD-8th); and Virginia State Delegate Eileen Filler-Corn ’93 (D-Fairfax). Edwards, Morella, and Filler-Corn laughed and shared anecdotes of their experiences on the campaign trail. As an example of some of the bizarre questions they faced during campaign, Morella shared “When I ran the first time I was asked ‘are you running as a woman?’” Students, faculty, and staff gained insight on the importance of women running for office and the biggest obstacles that prevent most women from running for office.

Panelists and Prof. Fernando Laguarda
Panelists and Professor Fernando Laguarda

The panelists kept the conversation very solution-oriented by discussing several tangible ways to combat the obstacles facing most female politicians. Solutions included mentorship, building strong coalitions, encouraging women to run a second time like most men if and after they lose their first race, how to become more comfortable with fundraising, and pushing for public financing because it lowers entry barriers for women to run for office. Filler-Corn emphasized that diversity matters and having women in elected office matters because we need every voice at the table. She complimented women as especially good at building coalitions and encouraged woman to not doubt themselves as potential leaders. Morella reminded the group that two thirds of the women in Congress are Democrats and more Republican women should run for office. She also emphasized the need to cultivate more respect in politics because respect is essential for women to succeed in politics and for society to function. Edwards commented on how we need many many more “years of the woman” to make a change. She encouraged the room full of millennials to be a generation that re-connects with public service. She explained how politics is about making a difference in people’s lives and that she couldn't 'think of anything more fun than being in public service. Even on a bad day, it’s a good day."

"I can't think of anything more fun than being in public service. Even on a bad day, it’s a good day."
- Congresswoman Donna Edwards