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Nevada seeks to make history with first female-majority legislature

In American history, there has never been a state legislature in any of the 50 states where there are more women serv...

Posted: Jul 17, 2018 2:00 PM
Updated: Jul 17, 2018 2:00 PM

In American history, there has never been a state legislature in any of the 50 states where there are more women serving than men.

But in 2018, Nevada could become the first. Nevada already has a record 38% female legislature, behind only Arizona and Vermont.

Currently, there are 24 women serving in the State Assembly and Senate combined. And even more won primaries in both parties in June. In November, all it would take is 8 more seats to reach the 32 seats needed for more than 50% female lawmakers in the Silver State.

"It's huge, it's historic," says Shea Backus. She's one of the candidates running for the first time this year hoping to make that milestone happen. Backus has been a lawyer, but decided to run this year for the Assembly in District 37 in northwest Las Vegas, and is the Democratic nominee.

"Sometimes I think women need to encourage other women to run, and I needed that little push," she says.

Groups like Emerge Nevada recruit and train female candidates to run and win. State Senator Yvanna Cancela is a mentor in the group. She says there's already a Women's Caucus in Carson City and wants to add more. She says especially with the Women's March and women's rights issues under attack at the federal level, it's inspiring more women to run for office.

"I think women are stepping up to say not only is that not okay but we're gonna fight back to make sure womens' rights are protected across the board," Cancela says.

As Backus campaigns door to door, she says voters are excited about the prospect of breaking the glass ceiling.

Women in Nevada are also heavily represented at the federal level. Alongside Catherine Cortez Masto, if Jacky Rosen wins the U.S. Senate race in November, both of Nevada's Senators would be women. And potentially so would 2 of our 4 members of Congress.

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