|Purpose||To elect pro-choice Democratic women to political office|
|Headquarters||Washington, D.C., U.S.|
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 group's name is an acronym for "Early Money Is Like Yeast", Malcolm commenting that "it makes the dough rise". 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. The organization is on track to raise $60 million for the 2016 election cycle, much of it earmarked for Hillary Clinton, whose presidential bid Emily's List has endorsed.
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 (not appointed or filling a seat of a deceased husband).
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.
In her book When Women Win: EMILY’s List and the Rise of Women in American Politics, Ellen Malcolm, the founder of the organization, stated that "creating progressive policies and promoting them can be incredibly valuable. But those policies will never be implemented unless enough politicians are elected who support them." They focused specifically on pro-choice women because they felt that "women couldn't be equal until they had control over their bodies."
They chose to focus on raising early money for women because women were not getting money from the Democratic party and thus were not winning races even if they were qualified, and they felt that early money could help convince people that their campaigns were credible and would help them raise more money later on.
For the 2006 election cycle, Emily's List raised about $46 million for candidates 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.
EMILY’s List criteria for picking candidates include staff recommendations, viability, "demographics and history of the district, analysis of opponents or potential opponents, analysis of candidate’s education, political experience, etc., demonstrated success at fund-raising, poll data to demonstrate name recognition and grass roots support."
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.
In 2013, Emily's List announced its Madam President campaign, saying "There is a mandate for women’s leadership in this country. But we have yet to break through the final glass ceiling and put a woman at the top of the Democratic ticket and into the Presidency." Madam President now houses the former social media presences of Ready for Hillary PAC which did grassroots organizing in preparation for Hillary Clinton's presidential candidacy.
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.
EMILY’s List provides trainings, recruits women to run, and endorses and funds female political candidates. EMILY’s List is listed as an “important source of candidate support,” in a 2010 article in the Harvard International Review.
Candidates endorsed by EMILY's List include:
|Tammy Duckworth||First female amputee elected to Congress||IL||Congresswoman then Senator|
|Tammy Baldwin||First openly gay woman in Congress||WI||Congresswoman|
|Kamala Harris||First African-American, South Asian, and woman to serve as California’s Attorney General||CA||Senator|
|Pramila Jayapal||First Indian-American woman elected to Congress||WA||Congresswoman|
|Catherine Cortez Masto||First Latina elected to US Senate||NV||Senator|
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 won a seat.
In the 2014 election cycle, Emily's List endorsed 24 U.S. House candidates, six U.S. Senate candidates, and six gubernatorial candidates. Of these 40 candidates endorsed by Emily's List, 42.5% won.
References in popular media
In The West Wing episode "In the Shadow of Two Gunmen, part 2" Toby tells C.J. that President Bartlet wants her as his press secretary because "[h]e likes the work that you did with that girl's group with the stupid name."
C.J.: Emily's List?
C.J.: That girl's group with the stupid name?
C.J.: Emily's List -- "early money is like yeast".
C.J.: "It helps raise the dough".
TOBY: I get it.
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.
Maggie's List is a United States federal political action committee founded in Florida in 2010 to "raise awareness and funds to increase the number of conservative women elected to federal public office."
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