Nearly two decades after the first-coined “Year of the Woman” in 1992, 2018 brought the largest surge of women and femme candidates than ever before. 2018 marked the dawn of a new era for women in politics - particularly in Texas. The Lone Star state was among many states to reach an insurmountable level of “firsts” during the most recent election cycle. The 2018 midterm election was guided by a new, non-partisan approach from voters in Texas that promoted the growth of democracy. Over fifteen million Texans were registered to vote for the election this past November 6th - the most registered voters that the state has ever seen. Texans elected their first Latinas to Congress: Congresswomen Veronica Escobar and Sylvia Garcia. The first same-spouse couple entered the Texas Legislative Ladies club after the election of State Representative Julie Johnson. The Texas Legislature formed its first LGBT Caucus, dedicated to active representation of the LGBT community in the policy making process. There were nine state- and federal-level seats that witnessed head-to-head women campaigns, giving each seat a 100% chance of a woman being elected. Harris County received national attention after the election of nineteen African-American women judges, creating a phenomenal, history-making bench. Finally, Texas became the new unofficial swing state of the country, bringing Texas politics into a new, nationwide scope.
As 2018 progressed, so did the growth of the Lone Star Parity Project. We built our own database from the ground up, capturing data points that have never been aggregated before. We launched our first voting campaign for the midterms that introduced a non-partisan voter education headquarters, including tools to find polling locations, voting rights resources, and up-to-date news streams from the Secretary of State. And we’re continuing this momentum into 2019 by releasing our first in-house research report on the 2018 general election cycle.
We interviewed over fifty incredible women and femmes, sharing the stories of student activists, elected officials, campaign gurus, and political icons alike. We shared the story of Amy Sharp, one of only five women to serve as Student Body President for Texas A&M University within its 72-year history. We wrote about Judge Jennifer Edgeworth, the woman who recently tipped the scales of parity in favor of women for Collin County’s District Court bench. We heard from Honorable Jess Herbst, one of the first openly-transgender women to serve as a mayor in Texas. We detailed the journeys of Texan women who analyze politics through blog outlets like Terri Broussard Williams, founder of #TheMovementMakerTribe; Susan Byrnes Long, founder of the How She Got Here podcast; and Emily Jackson, founder of the She’s Running Podcast.
And we would be remiss to say we did it alone. We have built an Affiliate Network of fourteen incredibly talented organizations (and counting!) who are dedicated to building political parity in Texas. Our team of almost twenty members have worked diligently to bring you accurate research and compelling stories. We cheered on our team members as they reached incredibly milestones like beginning law school, graduating from undergraduate & graduate school, successfully defending research theses, and securing key stakeholder roles, all while driving this movement forward.
The state of the Texas woman is far from perfect - but we are making great strides towards equity in the political sphere. As 2019 enters, we prepare ourselves for the marathon that is activism. We will continue to answer the call for political parity in Texas.