The coronavirus pandemic sent candidates scrambling in the spring, trying to figure out how to campaign amid a global health crisis. For Republican women, that meant calling Julie Conway.
“I was having the same conversation 30 times a day,” Conway, the executive director of VIEW PAC, which supports GOP women running for office, said in a recent interview. “It occurred to me: Why don’t I just get them together once a day?”
Then came the Zoom calls — roughly two dozen female Republicans running for Congress, with no staff or consultants, having candid discussions with experts, current and former lawmakers and each other about how to adjust their campaigns. In the spring, those calls occurred every day and eventually became less frequent. But Conway plans to hold similar virtual events in future election cycles.
This kind of virtual gathering was new, but the behind-the-scenes mentoring wasn’t. Though often unseen, mentors have long helped female candidates navigate obstacles their male counterparts may not face. Lawmakers and campaign strategists say this mentorship is vital, and the record number of women in the House is thanks in part to this support.
Republicans, left with just 13 women in the House after the 2018 elections, were especially focused on supporting female candidates this cycle. The next Congress will see at least 28 House GOP women, a new record.