Surge of progressive Maine women line up to run for House and Senate

Surge of progressive Maine women line up to run for House and Senate

Emerge Maine, an organization dedicated to encouraging and training progressive women to run for office, announced at a State House press conference yesterday that at least 18 of its program alumnae will be seeking seats in the House and Senate this November.

“Emerge Maine seeks to literally change the face of Maine politics by inspiring and preparing more Democratic women to run for office and win,” said Emerge Maine executive director Jill Barkley. “With 11 of our alumnae serving in the Maine State House, we’ve been very successful at winning legislative races, but only 29 percent of those currently serving in the legislature overall are women. We know that 29 percent is not enough, which is why we are thrilled to announce our first round of candidates today who will help increase that percentage.”

The Maine group has trained 155 women since its founding in 2007 and 30 graduates of its training program currently hold municipal, county and state offices.

“Emerge has played a vital role in preparing me and hundreds of female candidates and lawmakers to be a strong voice for people in our state. Together we have worked to change the conversation about women’s issues and the role of women in office,” said Assistant House Majority Leader Sara Gideon, an Emerge alumni who is running for re-election in her Freeport and Pownal district.

Emerge graduates have been successful in advancing policies that are important to women. Last year, Representative Jay McCreight, who is running for re-election in her House District in Brunswick, introduced and passed legislation that will ensure reproductive health care for more than 13,000 Maine women. The measure became law after Governor Paul LePage failed to veto it in time.

The roster of Emerge alumni running in 2016 also includes the first contested primary between two members of the group. Kathleen Meil and Betsy Saltonstall, both of Rockport and currently participating in Emerge Maine’s Class of 2016, are running against one another for the open seat in House District 94.

“Primaries within our network means that we are achieving our goal of training and inspiring more women to run,” said Barkley.

The full list of candidates can be found at


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