OKLAHOMA CITY (KOKH) — A new group is looking to get more conservative women involved in Oklahoma politics.
The POWhER, or The Promoting Oklahoma Women in Elections & Representation, Political Action Committee was formed to support more Republican women running for elected office in the state. In a release, the group says it is "a network of grassroots individuals committed to helping inspire and support Republican women running for office at all levels of government and strengthening the network and unity of Republican women across the state."
"Our desire is to see more women raise their hand, and know they're going to be supported," said Donelle Harder, President of POWhER PAC.
Harder says Oklahoma ranks 40th in the nation when it comes to female representation in the state legislature. And on the heels of a record-number of women being elected to Congress in 2020, Harder believes its time to get more women into elected office here at home.
"The University of Chicago published a study last year that showed when women run, women win," said Harder. "And what often inspires a woman to run is to be inspired and see other women who have done it successfully."
That's why POWhER PAC's nine-member board features four women who previously held elected offices in the state, including Speaker Pro Tempore Lee Denney and former State Senator AJ Griffin. Harder also mentioned Republican Congresswoman Stephanie Bice and her election win in 2020 as inspiration for her personally to get involved with the PAC.
"She had to navigate a lot of naysayers," says Harder. "But she ultimately felt convicted, put her name in the hat. And as a result she's part of a national movement where we saw the largest number of women run for Congress. And guess what? As a result, we have the largest number of women serving in Congress."
The PAC says each year, it will support Republican women running for office financially, hold member-only events and host an annual networking event for members. It has already named its first four endorsements: Bice, State Senator Jessica Garvin, State Rep. Tammy West, and District Attorney Angela Marsee.
Harder says the groups focus right now is recruiting potential candidates and members ahead of the 2022 election cycle. But their overall goal is to get more Republican women on the ballot.
"Breaking through that special interest network that exists is often the hardest thing," says Harder. "As a woman you need a network. You need to know that there's going to be a financial support behind you. And that's our mission, is to bring that network so that you don't have to worry about what other special interest groups are out there trying to tell you 'not yet, now's not your time,' because they already have someone in the race who's going to protect other interests."
To learn more or to get involved with the POWhER PAC, visit here.