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Women Candidates Still Short of Parity in Illinois Legislative Races

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State of Illinois
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National politics and the recent surge of sexual harassment allegations have resulted in calls to increase the number of female candidates in the 2018 state legislative elections. But Illinois did not necessarily meet these expectations.

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Credit ilcampaign.org
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Sarah Brune

The only increase came from female participation in the races for the state House of Representatives and the race for lieutenant governor—where three women are competing for the spot.

Sarah Brune, Executive Director for the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform, says women candidates often face more hurdles than their male counterparts. “There may be more people interested or activated to get involved in politics, but being a candidate for office is nothing easy or simple—it’s difficult,” she says, “and it requires a lot of time ... money and resources.”

Brune says the rising costs of campaigns in Illinois might also prevent female candidates from running. “Our elections in Illinois are becoming more and more expensive, and in some ways that makes them more and more exclusionary,” she says.

An analysis of candidate filings shows just over 40 percent of those running next year for the Illinois House are women. The percentage is lower when it comes to state senate contests. Statewide elections—those for governor, comptroller and attorney general—have more political parity.

Daisy reports on various assignments for NPR Illinois. She graduated from the Public Affairs Reporting master’s degree program at the University of Illinois Springfield, where she spent time covering the legislative session for NPR Illinois' Illinois Issues. Daisy interned then researched for the Chicago Reporter. She obtained an associate degree in French language from Harry S Truman College and a bachelor's degree in communications from the Illinois Institute of Technology. Before coming to Springfield, Daisy worked in communication roles for several Chicago non-profits. Daisy is from Chicago where she attended Lane Tech High School.