There has never been a better time to be a kick-ass woman in politics than there is today. Hillary Clinton's addition to Twitter last month created no less than a tidal wave of social media news — especially that mysterious "TBD" in her bio. Wendy Davis just led a ridiculously epic 11-hour filibuster to combat Texas' most stringent anti-abortion bill, and we hosted Kirsten Gillibrand at MC's recent Equal Pay Act luncheon. With this in mind, the nation's largest resource for women in politics, EMILY's List, just announced the launch of its latest venture, "Women We're Watching." The online project profiles women leaders who are rising stars or are already qualified to take a place on the presidential ticket in 2016, 2020, and beyond. With more than two million members in the EMILY's List community, we have a feeling this voice is only going to grow stronger once election buzz begins to pick up speed. We spoke to Jess McIntosh, the organization's Communications Director, to get the low-down on the these klout-filled women and what to expect from them in the future.
Marie Claire: Why is now the best time to be a female politician, and, consequently, why is it the best time to kick-off the "Women We're Watching" project?
Jess McIntosh: We launched the Madam President campaign earlier this year, and "Women We're Watching" is another faction of it. We polled battleground states, and we saw that the country is more than ready for a woman president. These women have the right judgment and the ability to cut through partisan politics, for starters, and are as or more likely to put families ahead of politics. These are all qualities the country is so excited about. We want to make sure this conversation goes all the way to White House.
MC: Do you have a frontrunner for whom you think would be best suited for the presidency?
JM: Hillary [Clinton] is so clearly the right leader for this time. She inspires such enthusiasm among voters. Polls show that people would be more invested in a women president, so we're all just waiting with baited breath. However, this needs to be bigger than one woman and one cycle. There are women every bit as qualified as the men who get polled over and over again, but these women simply don't get mentioned. These are women who ought to be on every shortlist. Right now, they're simply not, and that's one thing we've got to change. Let's do everything we can to end this cycle.
MC: Who are other favorites of the EMILY's List staff?
JM: As I said earlier, it's about filling out the conversation forever — we're talking about women who are rising stars whom we should keep our radar. Kamala Harris, the Attorney General of California, is an inspiring figure with a great background story. There's Wendy Davis, Texas State Senator, who we all know has a really bright future. Kathleen Kane, Attorney General of Pennsylvania, should definitely be on your radar right now; she's definitely going places. Kathleen Sebelius is the Secretary of the Department of Health & Human Services and the former governor of a red state, and she's been leading on the nation's toughest problems for as long as I've been in politics. She's an expert communicator who can find a consensus on the toughest subjects — she would be a fantastic national leader. Of course, there's Amy Klobuchar, Minnesota State Senator, and Kirsten Gillibrand, New York State Senator, who are voices that you want at the head of the table, not just at the table. Those are a few of those right-there, right-now kind of women, women who are in the conversation no matter that the conversation is.