|Purpose||To elect pro-choice Democratic women to political office|
EMILY's List is an American political action committee (PAC) that aims to help elect pro-choice Democratic female candidates to office. It was founded by Ellen Malcolm in 1985. According to the Washington Examiner, EMILY's List is "the nation's most influential pro-choice political action committee."
The name EMILY's List is an acronym for "Early Money Is Like Yeast" (i.e., it raises dough). The saying is a reference to a convention of political fundraising: that receiving lots of donations early in a race is helpful in attracting subsequent donors.
From 1985 through the 2008 election, EMILY's List had raised and spent $240 million for political candidates. EMILY's List spent $27.4 million in 2010, $34 million in 2012, and $44.9 million in 2014.
History and mission
EMILY's List was founded in 1985, when 25 women met in the home of Ellen Malcolm. Founding members included Barbara Boxer, Ann Richards, Anne Wexler, and Donna Shalala. In 1986, early financial support from EMILY's List helped elect Barbara Mikulski of Maryland, the first female Democrat elected to the U.S. Senate in her own right.
The group's mission is to cultivate a donor network to raise money for pro-choice female Democratic candidates. To become an official EMILY's List member, an individual must pay $100 to join EMILY's List, and agree to donate a minimum of $100 each to two U.S. Senate, U.S. House, or gubernatorial candidates. Members make their donations directly to EMILY's List, which bundles the checks together and forwards them to candidates.
For the 2006 election cycle, EMILY's List raised about $46 million for candidates in the 2006 contests and the group was listed as the biggest PAC in the nation by Political Money Line. EMILY's List endorsed 31 candidates in 2006, eight of whom were victorious.
In 2008, EMILY's List endorsed 22 U.S. House candidates, two U.S. Senate candidates, and three gubernatorial contenders. The PAC helped elect two new female senators, Kay Hagan of North Carolina and Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, and supported the gubernatorial election of Bev Perdue of North Carolina, the re-election of Gov. Christine Gregoire of Washington, and the successful elections of twelve new women to the United States House of Representatives.
The organization's board of directors includes Ellen Malcolm, Stephanie Schriock, Joanne Howes, Ranny Cooper, Diana Bell, Mary Beth Cahill, Judith-Ann Corrente, Shefali Razdan Duggal, Ted Gavin, Rebecca Haile, Nikki Heidepriem, Judith Lichtman, Debra L. Ness, and Laura Ricketts.
The Political Opportunity Program (POP) was established in 2001 to encourage pro-choice Democratic women to run for state and local office. POP targets its resources toward pro-choice Democratic women running for state legislatures, state constitutional offices, and local offices.
Women Vote! is EMILY’s List’s independent expenditure arm which communicates directly with voters.
EMILY's List has received criticism from progressives, who say that the group is on the "wrong side of the political divide" by supporting ostensibly pro-choice female candidates, regardless of how conservative they are on economic issues, and sometimes endorsing female candidates who are less supportive of reproductive rights than a male opponent. They would like to see EMILY's List expand its definition of "women's issues" to include economic issues like a higher minimum wage and expanded Social Security. Others have said that the group simply needs to focus its resources better, staying out of races where there is already an incumbent progressive Democrat and focus on other races instead.
On January 20, 2007, EMILY's List endorsed Hillary Clinton for president. The endorsement came within hours of Clinton's announcement that she had formed an exploratory committee to run for president. EMILY's List bundled $855,518 for Clinton, making the group one of the five largest donors to the campaign.
During the 2008 Democratic presidential primaries, when NARAL endorsed Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton, EMILY's List was strongly critical. EMILY's List President Ellen Malcolm said, “I think it is tremendously disrespectful to Sen. Clinton - who held up the nomination of a FDA commissioner in order to force approval of Plan B and who spoke so eloquently during the Supreme Court nomination about the importance of protecting Roe vs. Wade - to not give her the courtesy to finish the final three weeks of the primary process. It certainly must be disconcerting for elected leaders who stand up for reproductive rights and expect the choice community will stand with them.”
After the conclusion of the Democratic presidential primary, EMILY's List moved their support to Barack Obama and was vocal in their opposition to the McCain/Palin ticket.
In 2012, 80% of the candidates endorsed by EMILY's List in the general election were victorious.
In the 2014 election cycle, EMILY's List endorsed 24 U.S. House candidates, six U.S. Senate candidates, and six gubernatorial candidates.
Similar groups have formed along the same lines as EMILY's List, with some slight variations. The Wish List supports pro-choice Republican women. In 1994, Joan Kirner created a similar organization in Australia by the name EMILY's List Australia.
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