Oprah Winfrey’s speech at the Golden Globes was exactly the kind of compelling performance that makes you think, “Why can’t this woman be president of everything?” Whether or not she goes for it—and you can argue that she’s not what we need—the good news is that plenty of other seasoned women are ON IT, working to get more women elected, already.
First, a shout-out to those of you making waves at the grassroots level. Have you donated to Emily’s List or She Should Run to help more women get elected? Apparently, you have—the number of women donating to women candidates running for federal offices has skyrocketed by 284% in the 2017-2018 election cycle compared to this time in the 2015-2016 cycle.
Meanwhile, midlife women are dominating political activism—at least on the progressive side. An April 2017 poll commissioned by advocacy site Daily Action found that the 86% of the members who responded to the poll were women and more than 60% of them were more than 46 years old.
But back to the U.S. presidency. Pundits are speculating left and right about not-Oprah women who could give it a shot. So, we decided to highlighting the more seasoned—and realistic—prospects of both parties here (with a shout-out to the fine writers at ThoughtCo., McClatchyDC, The New Yorker, The Washington Post, Politico, Cosmopolitan and HITC whose writing informed this list.)
Others probably qualify for this list of potential candidates, but these are names that keep rising to the top of the heap. In alphabetical order:
U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin, 55, (D-Wis., in office since 2017). A former state legislator, Baldwin is credited with helping ensure that Obamacare/the Affordable Care Act allowed children to stay on their parents’ healthcare insurance until the age of 26. She’s also the first openly LGBT person of either gender elected to the U.S. Senate—not a qualification, but important if you value equality for all under the law.
U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, 65, (R-Maine, in office since 1996). Collins had a long history of public service—for which we applaud her—before joining the U.S. Senator. Today, she is one of the few remaining moderate Republications known for working across party lines.
U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, 49, (D-Ill., in office since 2017). A combat veteran and former U.S. representative, Duckworth is one of the few—if not the only—Congresspeople who has titanium legs and sometimes uses a wheelchair. She is a frequent voice of advocacy for military veterans and active service men and women.
Carly Fiorina (R), 63, first female CEO of a Fortune 50 company (Hewlett-Packard) and former candidate for U.S. president. Fiorina had plentiful political experience in the private sector before running for POTUS in the 2016 election: She successfully persuaded Hewlett-Packard’s foot-dragging board of directors and major shareholders that acquiring Compaq was a great idea. Time proved her to be correct—but only after she’d been fired.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, 51, (D-New York, in office since 2009). A former corporate lawyer, Gillibrand did a stint as a special counsel to U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Andrew Cuomo during the Clinton Administration. Considered to be a feminist hero of the anti-Trump resistance movement, Gillibrand has gained stature through her leadership on sexual-misconduct issues, such as sexual assault in the military and on college campuses. She was the first member of Congress ever to post her official daily meetings, earmarks, and personal financial disclosures online—a win for transparency.
U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, 45 (R, appointed in 2017), former governor of South Carolina. As governor, Haley handled more than a few difficult issues, e.g., the shooting of nine churchgoers by a white supremacist; her subsequent decision to remove the Conference battle flag from the statehouse grounds; historic flooding; and a struggling state economy. And now she is adding foreign policy to her credentials bag.
Sen. Kamala Harris, 53 (D-California, in office since 2017). A former state’s attorney general, Harris has been a fierce defender of consumer protection and prosecutor of corporate polluters, for which we applaud her.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar, 57, (D-Minnesota, in office since 2007), 57. A former prosecutor for Minnesota’s largest county, Klobuchar began her political career when a hospital sent her home a mere 24 hours after her baby was born with a serious medical condition. Her testimony at the state legislature led to a state and, eventually, a federal law guaranteeing new mothers a 24-hour hospital stay. Oh, and by the end of 2016 she had sponsored/co-sponsored more Senate legislation than any other senator on record. Getting it DONE. Also, she’s funny.
Sen. Claire McCaskill, 64, (D-Missouri, in office since 2007). By her Senate voting record, she’s a moderate—which bodes well for a POTUS candidacy—and has carved out a watchdog role focused on reducing fraud and waste in government contracts, consumer protection and combating sexual assaults on campus and in the military, among other issues.
New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, 58, (R, in office since 2011). A former district attorney, and one of the few Latina leaders in the Republican party. A fiscal conservative, she has transformed her state’s structural deficit into a surplus without totally screwing over those in need.
Elizabeth Warren, 68, (D-Mass., in office since 2013). A former law professor and prominent legal scholar, Warren has built her reputation as a fierce fighter for consumer protections, among other concerns. She was assistant to the president and special advisor to the Secretary of the Treasury for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that she was instrumental in creating following the global financial crisis in 2008.
But…so far, having a female U.S. president is only the stuff of science fiction. If that’s how it’s gonna be, we’ll take Laura Rosslin (Mary McDonnell) of Battlestar Galactica or Allison Taylor (Cherry Jones) of 24.
# # #