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Home / Articles / Columnists / On the Bright Side /  Women in the Presidential Race - A Women’s History Month Tribute
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Friday, March 1,2024

Women in the Presidential Race - A Women’s History Month Tribute

By Jonna Shutowick. M.S. Ed.  
Not only is it Women’s History Month, but it’s also an election year. Did you know there have been 16 women who have run for President?

1870 Victoria Claflin Woodhull, The Equal Rights Party – With the passing of the 15th Amendment in 1869, Woodhull announced her candidacy for President in 1870, arguing that acknowledgment of enfranchisement for African Americans automatically included women. She explained in the New York newspaper The Herald that she was merely exercising “the rights I already possessed.”

1884 Belva Ann Lockwood, National Women’s Equal Rights Party – As a native-born citizen over the age of 35, and residing in the United States, she posited that nothing in the Constitution prevented her from being elected. “I cannot vote, but I can be voted for,” she pointed out.

1964 Margaret Chase Smith, Republican Party – When Smith declared her candidacy for the Republican Presidential nomination, she said, “I have few illusions and no money, but I’m staying for the finish.” She brought 27 delegates to the 1964 Republican Convention, making her the first woman placed in nomination for president at the convention of a major political party.

1971 Patsy Takemoto Mink, Democratic Party – Mink championed women’s issues in education, and co-sponsored the bill establishing Title IX. She also opposed the Vietnam War.

1971 Shirley Chisholm, Democratic Party – Chisholm was the first African American woman elected to Congress, and a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus and the Congressional Women’s Caucus. “Fighting Shirley” was also the first African American person to run for a major political party presidential nomination. “I am not the candidate of Black America, although I am Black and proud. I am not the candidate of the woman’s movement of this country, although I am a woman, and I am equally proud of that.”

1976 Ellen McCormack, Democratic Party – McCormack was motivated to run for president after the landmark Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade abortion decision. She told New York Magazine, “I’m in this to defend the unborn child.” She formed the Pro-Life Action Committee and was the first female candidate to receive federal election matching funds, which were used to expose millions of viewers to pro-life TV commercials.

1984 Sonia Johnson, U.S. Citizens Party and Peace and Freedom Party – The deadline for passage of the ERA had been kicked down the road to 1982, and when it failed, Johnson felt she had to run for president. She was the first third-party candidate to qualify for primary matching funds.

1987 Patricia Schroeder, Democratic Party – Schroeder had an active 24-year career in Congress, and in 1987 she chaired Senator Gary Hart’s presidential bid. He dropped out amid controversy, and she briefly entered the race, but soon realized she did not have the funds to run a successful campaign. She explained to her supporters, “It’s hard to do the grassroots thing and the delegate thing simultaneously,” which prevented her from being able to run her own campaign successfully.

1988 and 1992 Lenora B. Fulani, New Alliance Party (Independent) – Fulani was the first woman and first African American to appear on the ballot in all fifty states and the District of Columbia. She stood for change from the status quo. “When people keep voting and the same things happen, that turns them off to politics.”

2000 and 2004, Carol Moseley-Braun, Democratic Party – The first African American woman elected to the Senate, Moseley-Braun became incensed during the confirmation hearings of now Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. “The angrier I got at the way the Senate was carrying on, the more I became convinced that it absolutely needed a healthy dose of democracy.”

2000 Elizabeth Hanford Dole, Republican Party – Dole had a long career in public service dating back to the Nixon administration, and also presided over the American Red Cross, the first woman to do so since its founder Clara Barton. She declared her candidacy for the Republican nomination, but could not match the fundraising of George H.W. Bush.

2011 Michele Bachmann, Republican Party – A member of Congress from Minnesota from 2007 – 2014, Bachmann was a founding member of the Tea Party Caucus, espousing limited government, and conservative views on social issues.

2012 Jill Stein, Green Party – Stein is a physician and environmental health advocate. Issues important to her were green energy, reforming the financial system, a pathway to citizenship for immigrants, universal healthcare, and free higher education.

2016 Carly Fiorina, Republican Party – Former CEO, issues important to her were ending crony capitalism, reducing the size of government, and conservative social issues. “My involvement in politics has always been about citizenship… taking back our country from… the big, the powerful, the wealthy and well-connected.

2008 and 2016 Hillary Rodham Clinton, Democratic Party – Clinton captured 21 states in the Democratic primary elections of 2008 before conceding to Barack Obama. Then, in 2016, she became the first woman to serve as a major party’s nominee on the presidential ticket. She won the popular vote in 2016, 48% to 47%, but lost in the electoral college.

2024 Nikki Haley, Republican Party – And here we are. Nikki Haley, former governor, former U.N. ambassador, is now the only other Republican candidate challenging former President Trump in the Republican primaries for the 2024 election. To be continued….

Huge credit for this information goes to the National Women’s History Museum. For more information, please visit


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