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Women seek to expand their numbers in the Senate

A new breakdown by the Center for American Women and Politics shows that in this year’s midterms women in the Senate have a chance to expand their ranks beyond a historic 20 seats.

Four female members of the Senate are running for reelection this year: Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.). In all, 29 women (13 Democrats and 16 Republicans) currently are running for Senate, down from the 36 female candidates who ran in 2012 and 2010. More women could enter Senate races in the next months.

West Virginia will in all likelihood send a woman to the Senate for the first time, as it appears that two women will face off in the general election — Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R) and Secretary of State Natalie Tennant, a Democrat.

In Michigan, Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land (R) looks strong, and if she wins in the fall the state would have an all-female Senate delegation, like three other states: California, New Hampshire and Washington.

Hawaii also could have both its Senate seats held by women if Rep. Colleen W. Hanabusa (D) wins the Democratic primary contest  against Sen. Brian Schatz, who was appointed to fill the seat once held by the late Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, who died in 2012. The Aloha State’s other seat in the upper chamber is held by Sen. Mazie Hirono, also a Democrat.

“Not only do women hold a record 20 seats in the Senate, they make up 30% of the majority caucus and hold significant committee leadership positions,” said Debbie Walsh, director of the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University in an e-mail statement. “Whether it’s working to shut down the government shutdown, negotiating a bipartisan budget deal or changing the way the military deals with sexual violence, the women Senators are wielding power and getting things done.”