Nancy Mace declared her love for grandfathers Thursday morning, but not before the Republican candidate for Congress added a caveat: “I love granddads everywhere,” said Mace, who’s running to represent South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District in 2020. “But this is not your grandfather’s GOP anymore.”
Mace, a current South Carolina state lawmaker, was one of four women who appeared Thursday morning on Fox & Friends to launch the “Conservative Squad,” the Republican response to four young Democratic congresswomen who have become the face of the progressive movement in Washington, D.C.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., Ilhan Omar, D-Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley, D-Massachusetts, and Rashida Tlaib, D-Michigan, gained popularity across the country – especially with young Democrats – shortly after being elected to the House of Representatives in 2018. They were part of a wave of women elected to the House two years after Donald Trump ascended to the presidency.
On the opposite side of the aisle, the Conservative Squad is spearheaded by Jessica Taylor, a 35-year-old mother of three from Prattville, Alabama, who operates a non-profit and is one of seven Republicans running in Alabama’s 2nd Congressional District.
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Earlier this week, Taylor spoke to USA TODAY about how conservatives need a fresh set of voices in the Republican Party, and they especially need to hear from women.
“I do think women feel empowered now more than ever to speak up,” Taylor told USA TODAY. It’s “very important that younger generations of Republicans see women run for office.”
On Fox and Friends on Thursday, Taylor said “we are losing the younger generations of this country,” in explaining her decision to run for Congress.
The political bug already appears to be rubbing off on Taylor’s 7-year-old daughter, Fair. Recently, Fair came home from gymnastics class and shared that her instructor is going to be 18 before the 2020 election and plans to register and vote for Taylor.
“And I said, ‘You go, girl! You got a pledge of support and got someone to register!,” Taylor said, laughing.
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The rest of the conservative squad is made up of Beth Van Duyne, who is running in the Texas 24th Congressional District and is the former Mayor of Irving, Texas, and Michelle Fischbach, the former Lieutenant Governor of Minnesota who is running to represent the Minnesota 7th District.
The four conservatives represent a small fraction of Republican women running for Congress in 2020. While 2018 saw a flood of Democratic women elected to office across the country, Republican women were almost nowhere to be found.
But that appears to be changing according to data from the Center for American Women and Politics, which has so far identified 170 Republican women who have run or are likely to run for Congress in 2020; two years ago at this time, ahead of the 2018 election, that number was just 67.
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Republican women are significantly underrepresented in Congress. Women hold just 126 of the 535 total seats, or less than 24%. And Republicans are just a sliver of that, holding 21 seats total – eight in the Senate, and 13 in the House.
“Democrats have taken a sharp left turn under the social squad,” Mace said Thursday on Fox & Friends. “2020 is a pivotal year for our country. We see so many women across the country right now, Republican women, who are picking up the mantle and saying, ‘I want to serve. Enough is enough – my kids and my country are worth fighting for. That’s what this is about.”