Mirroring trend nationwide, Indiana sees surge in female candidates

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.-- For just the second time in history, Indiana Republicans are poised to officially nominate an all-female statewide ticket this weekend.

Leading up to the weekend convention in Evansville, Secretary of State Connie Lawson, Treasurer Kelly Mitchell and Auditor Tera Klutz are meeting with delegates in stops across the state, as women across Indiana and the country are running for office in historic numbers.

“None of us feel like we got the job because we were female, but because we were qualified," Klutz said. “But to be part of that wave is huge.”

Nationally, more first-time women candidates are Democrats. In Indiana, the state party is looking to expand their footprint in a heavily Republican state where Republicans are still favored.

“It’s definitely an uphill battle,” Poonam Gill said, who’s running against House Speaker Brian Bosma. “This is really a starting point, and we’ll see where it takes us. I think it is also important that little girls out there see that they can do anything and be anything.”

Women make up about 20 percent of the Indiana General Assembly, according to the non-partisan Center for American Women and Politics. The organization said 59 women will appear on the November ballot for state legislative races, the most dating back to at least 2000 where the organization has tracked female participation.

The outcome in Indiana and nationwide remains unclear, but the surge of female candidates following the year of the #MeToo movement, political experts say, is undeniable.

"That's the challenge - whether or not it is just as they say a flash in the pan so to speak,” Laura Wilson said, political science professor at the University of Indianapolis. “I think this could be indicative of a larger change in American politics, but it's tough to say at this point."