Not exactly 50-50

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By KEITH COUSINS

Staff Writer

COEUR d’ALENE — A new study placing Idaho among the worst in the nation when it comes to women holding elected positions had leaders on both sides of the aisle doing something they rarely do — agreeing.

“There is no gender test,” said Brent Regan, chair of the Kootenai County Republican Central Committee. “I would certainly welcome any good candidate for office.”

Bev Moss, spoke on behalf of the Kootenai County Democrats.

“When we’re running people, gender has not been a big consideration,” Moss said. “We would just like to get anybody elected — male or female.”

Representation2020, which advocates for gender parity — a 50:50 ratio of men to women — in politics, created a grading system for states based on the recent electoral successes of female candidates at the local, state and national levels. Idaho received a “D” grade in the study, which places it at 45th in the nation.

“Although this score has risen from 2015, Idaho’s representation of women has otherwise steadily regressed. Idaho has never had a woman elected to the U.S. Senate, and has not elected a woman to the U.S. House of Representatives since 2001,” the study states. “Idaho has been represented by just two congresswomen in its history.” And Idaho has never had a female governor.

Idaho did, however, rank high when it comes to female representation at the state level. Women hold 30 percent of the state legislative seats, ranking Idaho 11th in the nation.

Speaking for himself and not the GOP Central Committee, Regan said he feels the party wants people who are qualified and passionate about serving. He used Sen. Mary Souza, R-Coeur d’Alene, as an example of a woman seeking public office and being supported by local party leadership and the community as a whole.

“I’m a big fan of hers,” Regan said. “I wish we had 10 more like her.”

Moss, the state committee woman for the Kootenai County Democrats, echoed her Republican counterpart and stated gender would rank low on the list of considerations for supporting a candidate. At the local and state level, Moss said there is a history of women successfully obtaining an elected position.

Rather than gender, Moss said she sees age as being a demographic parties will have to look at if they want success at the polls during elections. Millennials, according to Moss, are less inclined to vote for older candidates.

“If we’re going to be appealing to the younger voters, I think it would be very smart to start looking at age when we discuss running candidates,” Moss said.

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