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Nevada seeks to make history with first female-majority legislature

Posted at 7:29 PM, Jul 14, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-15 13:48:27-04

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

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

Currently, 24 women are 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 eight 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 women's' 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 two of our four members in the House of Representatives.

Here's a full list of all the female candidates on the ballot for the Nevada Legislature in 2018:

State Senate:

District 8 - Marilyn Dondero Loop (D) vs. Valerie Weber (R)

District 9 - Tiffany Jones (R) vs. Melanie Scheible (D)

District 10 - Yvanna Cancela (D), incumbent

District 13 - Julia Ratti (D), incumbent

District 14 - Wendy Boszak (D)

District 16 - Tina Davis-Hersey (D)

District 20 - Julie Pazina (D)

State Assembly:

District 1 - Daniele Monroe-Moreno (D), incumbent

District 2 - Jennie Sherwood (D)

District 3 - Selena Torres (D)

District 4 - Connie Munk (D)

District 5 - Brittney Miller (D), incumbent

District 7 - Dina Neal (D), incumbent

District 8 - Tina Peetris (R)

District 9 - Linda Cannon (R)

District 11 - Olivia Diaz (D), incumbent vs. Gianna Miceli (R)

District 12 - Susan Martinez (D)

District 14 - Maggie Carlton (D), incumbent

District 16 - Heidi Swank (D), incumbent

District 17 - Patricia Little (R)

District 20 - Ellen Spiegel (D), incumbent

District 21 - Cherlyn Arrington (R)

District 22 - Melissa Hardy (R) vs. Kristee Watson (D)

District 24 - Sarah Peters (D)

District 25 - Jill Tolles (R), incumbent

District 26 - Lisa Krasner (R), incumbent vs. June Joseph (D)

District 27 - Teresa Benitez-Thompson (D), incumbent

District 29 - Lesley Cohen (D), incumbent

District 31 - Jill Dickman (R)

District 32 - Alexis Hansen (R) vs. Paula Povilaitis (D)

District 34 - Shannon Bilbray-Axelrod (D), incumbent vs. Janice Wesen (R)

District 35 - Michelle Gorelow (D)

District 36 - Lesia Romanov (D)

District 37 - Shea Backus (D)

District 38 - Robin Titus (R), incumbent

District 39 - Patricia Ackerman (D)

District 40 - Autumn Zemke (D)

District 41 - Sandra Jauregui (D), incumbent

There are also four other incumbent female State Senators - Pat Spearman (D), Joyce Woodhouse (D), Nicole Cannizzaro (D) and Heidi Gansert (R), whose seats aren't up for election until 2020.