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Women Gaining Leadership In California Legislature

melfoody, flickr
 

melfoody, flickr

In November state Senator Jean Fuller will become Senate Minority Leader. She’ll be the Senate’s first woman Republican leader. And she’ll be joining Democratic Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins and Assembly Minority Leader Kristin Olsen on the "big five," which also includes the governor and the Senate president pro tem. Fuller says she’s looking forward to her new role.

"I just think it’s a very exciting time," she says. "I never dreamed it would work out this way. But it’ll be a lot of fun working with these ladies. I know them quite well."

Democratic political consultant Robin Swanson says it’s exciting to see an increasing number of women in leadership roles. And she says they’re all skilled politicians.

"The women who’ve risen to those positions have had to be really political savvy to do so," she says. "So, it’s not just I’ve done the most work, or I’ve been here the longest. It literally is figuring out who is on your side and who you can get to do things."

Swanson says having women in prominent legislative roles and running for national office could make 2016 a big year.

"I think with the excitement of Hillary Clinton and Kamala Harris and women see other women can do this, that hopefully that inspires other women to run for office," she says.   

Republicans are optimistic as well. Consultant Cassandra Pye says Fuller and Olsen will be assets to the party.

"We are about to enter a presidential election year where we are likely to see a very strong women running on the ballot for president," she says. "And it certainly helps the Republican brand to have not just two women at the head of their respective caucuses, but very, very capable, very, very smart (women)."   

There will be a number of open legislative seats in 2016. It’s seen as a crucial year for people hoping to get more women elected to office. Women currently make up fewer than 30 percent of California state legislators.