Few women hold top elected offices in Maryland

Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, the head of a Washington public policy firm who is married to Democratic Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, said this month that she’s considering a run for governor, an office that has never been held by a woman in Maryland.

There have been several female gubernatorial candidates over the years, most recently Heather Mizeur, a Democrat from Montgomery County, who ran in 2014.

But nearly a century after women obtained the right to vote, relatively few women hold top offices in a state that is 52 percent female.

Only one out of nine counties run by county executives in Maryland has female leadership. Jan Gardner, a Democrat elected in 2014, leads Frederick County. But at least two women are said to be considering a run for Prince George’s county executive, including former Rep. Donna Edwards, who lost the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate against Chris Van Hollen last year, and State’s Attorney Angela Alsobrooks, a Democrat from Prince George’s County.

With the retirement of U.S. Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski and the departure of Edwards from the House of Representatives last year, Maryland residents now have no women representing them in Congress.

In Congress, about 19 percent of elected members are women — 84 members of the U.S. House of Representatives and 21 in the U.S. Senate.

That puts the United States in 104th place out of 193 countries ranked by percentage of women in the lower house of parliament (the equivalent of the House of Representatives), according to the United Nations’ 2017 ranking of women in parliaments. The United States’ 19 percent was lower than those of Bangladesh (20 percent), Iraq (25 percent), Algeria (32 percent), Mexico (43 percent) and Sweden (44 percent).

Rwanda had the most female representation in parliament at 61 percent, in part because war has killed so many men, and also because its constitution requires at least 30 percent of its parliament to be female.

One area where Maryland does rank higher than most is in the state legislature. According to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University, Maryland ranks 10th-highest in the country for female representation, with its female delegates and senators making up about 31 percent of the General Assembly.

Those numbers have led political groups to organize special efforts to back more women running for office. Emerge Maryland is working on placing more female Democrats in office, while the Maryland Federation of Republican Women is helping form a similar group, according to its president, Liz League.

Copyright © 2017, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad
37°