There Are 500 Women Running for A Major Elected Office in 2018. Here are Five Candidates You Should Definitely Follow.

It’s a crowded field in 2018 as Republicans scramble to hold onto majorities in the House and Senate in the face of a huge wave of challengers, many of them first-time contenders for political office. Emily’s List, an organization focused on supporting pro-choice, Democratic women, indicates nearly 500 ladies will be stepping up and campaigning for a major office this year.

In addition to running for seats to flip state legislatures in districts all across America, there are also 79 women expected to run for governor, more than double the previous record set in 1994 of 34 female gubernatorial candidates. Is there an obvious catalyst for this enthusiastic turnout among women? Most experts agree the blame (or praise) can be laid squarely at the feet of Donald Trump.

In an interview for NBC, Stephanie Shriock, the founder of Emily’s List, said it was not only Donald Trump and the #MeToo movement that had lit a “proverbial fire” under women, but the GOP’s war against reproductive rights and healthcare.

Our real motivation now is what this Republican Party is doing to us. Women are saying ‘Yes, I want my voice heard. I need to do this for my family, for my community, for my state.

With so many buzz-worthy candidates taking center stage, it can be hard to know which campaigns to pay attention to. Here are five women with compelling stories that are generating lots of enthusiasm among voters and proving that when it comes to running the world, Beyonce knows what’s she’s singing about.

1. Laura Moser

Running for TX 7th Congressional District

While her grandfather and aunt once escaped Nazi Germany, this mom and journalist never imagined she’d be on the front lines of anything. Though Laura’s husband once worked for Barack Obama, first as a Senator and then as part of the White House staff, it was a world they thought they’d left behind along with those embarrassing toddler temper tantrums.

Yes, that’s Laura’s adorable and now infamous daughter making herself comfy in the Oval Office.

But in the aftermath of the election, Laura felt helpless and needed a sense of purpose and action to ground her. So she founded Daily Action, a text messaging service that allowed members of the resistance to organize around a single daily call to arms. It was a huge success, boasting over a quarter million activists as subscribers. But like most women, Laura wasn’t content to stop there. She’s angling to unseat a Republican incumbent in a deep red Texas district. It won’t be an easy feat, but Laura says she has found plenty of motivation in her daughter, Claudia.

“I was born a feminist, but even if I hadn’t been, Claudia would have made one of me.”

It hasn’t been all smooth sailing for this media darling. Recent controversies surrounding opposition research that the DCCC released on Moser have made headlines, drawing criticism that Democrats are submarining Laura’s campaign. Moser recently commented that this effort has backfired in Texas, where being seen as anti-establishment has buoyed her image and voter turnout. We’ll find out soon enough. Texas primaries begin this Tuesday.

Dates to watch: March 6, 2018 is the Texas primary election

2. Stacey Abrams

Running for Governor of Georgia

Stacey is no newcomer to politics. In 2010 she became the first woman to lead a party in the Georgia general assembly as well as the first African American to head the Georgia House of Representatives. But her beginnings are a bit more humble. Part of a large family struggling to survive in rural Mississippi, Stacey’s parents were both Methodist ministers who made community service a way of life. “We didn’t know it was called service,” Abrams says on her website, “We just knew it was called Saturday.”

Stacey also founded the New Georgia Project, registering more than 200,000 voters of color in just two years. Although Georgia hasn’t had a Democratic governor since 2003, Abrams expressed confidence about her candidacy.

“I’ve had a consistent path of service. I’ve never aspired to a position. I’ve always aspired to do the work. And that consistency is what sets me apart from my opponent.”

Recently, Georgia’s governor gave Democrats in the state a big boost when he signed a bill that his own Lieutenant Governor, Casey Cagel, bragged was intended to punish Delta airlines for ending their relationship with the NRA after the Parkland shooting.

Delta, a major employer in the state with a hub in Atlanta, released a statement saying the decision was not made for economic gain and the company’s values were “not for sale.” Recent polling now has Democratic challenger Abrams within single digits of Cagle, who is also running for governor. Instead of punishing Delta, Casey Cagle may find that his ultimatums and staunch support of the NRA will prove deadly in Georgia's gubernatorial race.

Dates to watch: May 22, 2018 is Georgia’s primary election

3. Mai Khanh Tran

Running for CA’s 39th Congressional District

There are few stories as emblematic of the American dream as Mai’s. She’s a refugee from Vietnam who came to the United States in 1975 when she was just nine. Mai worked several jobs, including as a janitor, to put herself through Harvard and became a pediatrician, settling in Orange county after her residency at UCLA. When her republican representative Ed Royce began to undermine the ACA, Mai told Elle she knew she had to get involved not only for her patients but for every woman.

“Women are constantly having to struggle to demand their own healthcare rights. We’re not some secondary concern. We’re half the population.”

Ed Royce, formerly one of Congress’s longest serving Republicans and Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs, announced his retirement earlier this month opening the field and making Ballotpedia rate this buzzworthy race as one to watch in 2018.

Dates to watch: June 5, 2018 is the California primary

4. Paulette Jordan

Running for Governor of Idaho

Indigenous tribes have been on the front lines of activism in the Resistance, both at Standing Rock and in battles across the nation for public lands. Paulette Jordan, who traces her ancestry to several tribes in Northern Idaho, has always been involved in leading her state. She was the youngest member ever elected to Couer d’Alene tribe’s council and serves on several prominent boards including the Idaho Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. As governor, she’s promised to bring in a new brand of progressive leadership.

While Idaho is a Republican stronghold, there’s been significant momentum for progressive candidates in places that were previously considered safely GOP territory, like the Midwest. In an interview for Mic, Paulette said she’s hoping to capitalize on that.

“I think there’s this task for Democrats in red states to essentially communicate to voters that the Democrats are the ones on the ‘helping people’ train — that we believe in expanding pre-K, making child care more affordable to families and having a path to Medicaid expansion — that’s where I think this could be a different type of year.”

Dates to watch: May 15, 2018 is Idaho’s primary election

5. Mikie Sherrill

Running for New Jersey’s 11th Congressional District

If badass isn’t Mikie’s middle name, it should be. When she decided at the age of ten to become a pilot like her grandfather, women weren’t even admitted into the Naval Academy at Annapolis. Fortunately, that changed just in time for Mikie, who graduated from the Academy and flew helicopter missions for the Navy for over a decade. She came home and decided to take up law, earning a degree at Georgetown and serving as a federal prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s office. Now she’s set her sights a bit higher. Congress. And like many women, Sherrill told Glamour Trump’s election was the spark that lit her campaign fire.

“I fought for this country my whole adult life. I have four kids. There wasn’t a point where I could consciously decide that I was not going to fight for the future of this country.”

In fact, several of Mikie’s classmates from the Academy are running for office, including Amy McGrath whose campaign video went viral last summer.

Mikie was running against incumbent Rodney Frelinghuysen, who just announced last month he won’t seek re-election after facing pretty challenging prospects in the polls. The filing deadline is April, but this race is already shaping up to be one for the history books.

Dates to watch: June 5, 2018 is New Jersey’s primary election

Crawl, walk, or run and join hundreds of women who are changing the face of politics. Find out more about how to support female candidates below. Because if we want the future to be female, we’ll need to start investing in women as leaders.

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