Make your home page

60 Indiana women running for state office in election

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Six days away from the midterm election, voters are seeing more women on the ballot than in years past. 

Republican State Treasurer Kelly Mitchell is one of 60 women running for state office in Indiana, according to data from Rutger’s University Eagleton Institute of Politics’ Center for American Women and Politics

“I love seeing this growth!” Mitchell said.

She was first elected state treasurer in 2014. Mitchell is up for re-election, facing Democrat John Aguilera. 

“For me,” Mitchell said, “it was having the mentors and leaders that I admired. Women going ahead and doing that and making me thing ‘Oh, I can do that too!’”

State Rep. Cherish Pryor, a Democrat from Indianapolis, said “I think women are tired of men running everything.”

In office since 2008, Pryor is unopposed in the Nov. 6 election. 

Pryor said, “Women are starting to stand up and say, ‘You know what, this is my country, too. I have the ability to serve and I’m gonna run for office.’”

Amanda Friesen, an associate professor of political science at Indiana University Purdue University-Indianapolis, said, “Some of it has to do with seeing a woman run for the top job in the country, so seeing Hillary Clinton running in 2016 demonstrated to women that they could see themselves or someone who looks like them in that type of role.”

Some national movements also have contributed, Friesen said. “The response to (President Donald) Trump’s election and some of the decisions by his administration, so the women’s march and some of the other protest responses, I think galvanized and mobilized women.”

Kristina Horn Sheeler, executive associate dean and professor of communication studies at the IUPUI Honors College, presented her own reasons behind why more women are running.

“They are energized by current events, including President Trump’s unconventional election, women’s marches, the success of Bernie Sanders, who encouraged many young people to become involved in politics, and #MeToo. The time is ripe for women to speak up in response to what feels like a very divided political climate,” Sheeler said. “They see that an outsider, unconventional candidate such as President Trump can win, so why not run? This is in contrast to previous years in which women only run when they feel they are more than qualified for office. Women believe they bring strengths to public service and are campaigning not just on their political record, but as mothers, community organizers, business leaders, and military leaders.”

Sheeler said more organizations exist to encourage and prepare women to run for office “including the Richard G. Lugar Excellence in Public Service Series, the Hoosier Women Forward Series, and Ready to Run Indiana.” 

Regardless, Mitchell said she hopes all the women seeking an Indiana office encourage other Hoosier women. “I just encourage women to step out and take a chance and walk through those open doors. Take those opportunities.”

Rutger’s Center for American Women and Politics has a list online of all the women candidates running for state positions in Indiana.

This story was updated to correct an error in the video and the spelling of Amanda Friesen’s name.