A growing number of Texas women have filed paperwork to run for higher office – in particular, seats in Washington, D.C. and in Austin.
About 50 women have filed paperwork to run for Congressional seats ahead of the March primary, and as many as 100 women have filed for seats in the Texas Legislature, according to Annie’s List, an organization that “has recruited, trained and supported progressive women running for office in Texas.”
“When women run for office, women win. And as we see more women win, more will run. It is an exciting time!” said Patsy Woods Martin, Executive Director of Annie’s List.
There are 38 members of the Texas Congressional delegation – 36 seats in the United States House of Representatives and 2 United States Senators – and only three of them are women.
Those women – U.S. Rep. Kay Granger, (R) 12th District, U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, (D) 18th District and U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, (D) 30th District – were all elected between 1992 and 1996. And Kay Granger, of Fort Worth, was the female freshman elected to a full term to represent Texas in Congress, and that was 22 years ago.
“I am very aware that I was the first Republican woman to be elected to serve In the House of Representatives from Texas,” Rep. Granger told NBC DFW. “I didn’t expect after 22 years to still be the only Republican woman to serve in that capacity. I am fully ready to share that place in Texas.”
Deborah Gagliardi, of Arlington, very much wants to join Rep. Granger as a Republican Congresswoman from Texas. Gagliardi is among a group of contenders campaigning to replace U.S. Rep. Joe Barton, who is stepping down amid scandal from the seat he has held in the Texas 6th District for the past 30-plus years.
“I'm not saying anyone should vote for me just because I am a woman. I would be offended by that, but we are very, very under represented,” Gagliardi said.
Gagliardi is a business owner and an engineer who has worked for decades in the construction industry.
She has been involved in Republican politics in Tarrant County for years, and even previously sought a city council seat in Arlington once before. But Gagliardi was not motivated to run for Congress until Barton’s sexting scandal came to light and she said she was rebuffed by the Republican “Good old boys network” when she inquired about how the party was planning to respond.
“I have four daughters and I don't want them working in that environment,” Gagliardi said. “Texas women have been in the background doing the work and whenever I, every time I would speak up I was told to sit down and shut up.”
Like Gagliardi, Salerno is also a businesswoman. But politics became a second career, of sorts, for Salerno following an appointment to serve under President Barack Obama in the United States Department of Agriculture. For parts of 6 years, from 2012 to 2017, Salerno served as the Deputy Undersecretary for Rural Development, to ensure “rural communities had access to safe drinking water, affordable housing, and high-speed broadband,” according to her campaign website.
Although Salerno has been involved in politics, it was not until the era of President Donald Trump that she decided to put her name on a ballot.
“That this country could elect someone like that and that we all sit by I think that is where you get women [running for office in increased numbers.] They are outraged,” Salerno said. “And they are so sick of a bunch of good old boys deciding how to live their lives in Washington, D.C. and Austin, and they want power. And I know they deserve power.”
Salerno noted that Texas women are “woefully underrepresented” in Washington, and that “we are not going to take it anymore.”
The Texas Primary will be held on Tuesday, March 6.