That Democrats became roadkill during the latest round of redistricting, mostly at the hands of Republican state legislatures, has been well documented. But less widely known is that the casualties at the state level often hit women lawmakers the hardest — eating into the slow but steady gains women have made in statehouses across the country. A closer examination shows that it’s not just Democratic women officeholders who have taken it on the chin, being drawn into districts with either more voters from the opposite party or another incumbent — or both. The redistricting process in several states could set women of both parties back, including many women in leadership positions. In North Carolina, where Republicans controlled the redistricting process and women lawmakers have been particularly hard-hit, those dealt a tough blow by redistricting include state Sen. Linda Garrou, the deputy Democratic leader, and Rep. Martha Alexander, who has served for nearly 20 years and is a former co-chair of the redistricting committee. In all, 10 of 25 Democratic women lawmakers in the state were either “double bunked” — forced into a district with another incumbent — or drawn into heavily Republican districts.
“I just don’t see how that’s anything other than deliberate,” Carol Teal, executive director at Lillian’s List, a group working to elect pro-choice Democratic women in the Tarheel State, told TPM. “There’s no other category of people who took that kind of hit. Republican legislative leaders seemed especially eager to target Democratic women in the General Assembly for defeat,” noted NC Policy Watch.
Republican women in leadership have been targeted, too. Take Colorado, for example, which has the highest percentage (40) of female lawmakers in the county and where Democrats essentially controlled the redistricting process via a special commission. “Three of the nine Republican women in the House will have to run in a primary with another GOP incumbent. Two of them, House Majority Leader Amy Stephens and Rep. B.J. Nikkel, the majority whip, are in leadership,” according to the Denver Post. Party primaries for legislative seats in Colorado are scheduled for June 26.