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Empowered women empower women, so Representative Elise Stefanik (R-NY) is starting her own PAC to support Republican women.
Stefanik launched her PAC last week, citing her concern that the number of Republican women in the 116th Congress is at “crisis level.” As the first female head of recruitment at the NRCC, Stefanik prided herself on finding more than 100 Republican women to run for Congress, but only one of those women won her primary. Her frustration with the NRCC grew when she felt like she “didn’t get an answer” from her male colleagues when she expressed her concern. As well, there were many female candidates whom Stefanik really believed in. Not being able to really help them in their primaries bothered her.
So, Stefanik is “refocusing and expanding” E-PAC, which aims to elevate Republican women in their primary races. The NRCC does not interfere or pick sides in primaries between Republicans, but with her PAC, Stefanik now can to specifically support female Republican candidates and “nontraditional” candidates. Since last Tuesday, Stefanik has promoted her expanding PAC on social media in order to fundraise and bring awareness to her mission.
E-PAC is not completely new. It was active in both 2016 and 2018. During the 2018 midterms, the PAC spent $100,000, according to OpenSecrets.org. Recipients included Martha McSally, Mia Love, and Marsha Blackburn.
After her announcement, Stefanik received a little bit of backlash from fellow Congressman Tom Emmer (R-MN), who said the move was a “mistake.” Stefanik quickly fired back on social media, saying she “wasn’t asking for permission.” In the same post, she credited fellow Republicans, like Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, who donated early to her campaign and helped her across the finish line in 2014.
Despite the criticism from those in her own party, Stefanik is standing up for what she believes in. She sees a problem within her party and is working to fix it with her own resources. Even though there is only one Republican female freshman representative, there are plenty of motivated, passionate Republican women eyeing a 2020 run that Stefanik can now assist. Regarding these women, Stefanik said:
“These voices need to be elevated between now and 2020. And they need to be looked to as role models as how to win in tough districts in this environment.”