Why aren't more moms running for office? One group is hoping to change that

A mom votes
A woman drops her ballot into an official ballot drop box outside the Los Angeles County Registrar's Office in Norwalk, Calif. (Image Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images)

"Who will watch your kids while you campaign?"

It's a question Liuba Grechen Shirley says she repeatedly got when she ran for a New York congressional seat in 2018. At the time, she was a mother of two young children.

"Men don't get asked that question. Men are praised if they bring their children with them," Grechen Shirley said. "But when a woman shows up with her child, she's immediately looked at as somebody who is not fully dedicated to the cause, and who does not have the time to run."

She lost in the general election to Peter King in 2018, but found a new mission. In the years since that race, Grechen Shirley created Vote Mama Foundation and the Vote Mama PAC, organizations dedicated to getting mothers, specifically Democrats, elected to public office.

"It's critical that we are also teaching our children that running for office is just what moms do, that they should be civically engaged, that it's fun, and that it's easy," Grechen Shirley said.

It's a message that's hard to get into the minds of women even now in 2022. This year, there are a record number of women who are nominees in races for governor and state legislatures, according to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University.

Women — even more so those with young children — are still in the minority, Vote Mama's research shows. This is despite the proven political power of mothers, University of Virginia a politics professor Jennifer Lawless said.

Garrett Hall at Sunset

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