National politics and the recent surge of sexual harassment allegations have resulted in calls to increase the number of female candidates in the 2018 races for legislative and statewide offices. But Illinois did not necessarily follow along with these expectations.
The only increase came from female participation in the races for the 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.
According to Brune, the number of female candidates in the 2018 primaries vary by party lines. An analysis of candidate filings shows just over forty 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.