Emerge America tour comes to Bowling Green encouraging women to run for office

The Women’s Recruitment session for Emerge America took place at the UAW Banquet Hall on Thursday, September 6. This event was held to inform and encourage Democratic women to run for office by joining Emerge: a training program for women seeking positions in office. Female officials from throughout Kentucky were invited to attend and speak.

A national program encouraging and educating women to run for office has been touring through Kentucky and made a stop in Bowling Green last week.

Emerge America was founded in California in 2005. There are currently 25 Emerge-affiliated states, Kentucky being one of them. The Emerge Kentucky Recruitment Tour started in August and has been visiting different cities since then.

The tour stopped in Bowling Green on Thursday, Sept. 6, and featured multiple of the program’s alumni who will be on the political ballot this November.

Kentucky was the 18th state to establish an Emerge chapter, and was the first and only state in the South to have an Emerge program prior to the 2016 presidential election. As of this year, Emerge chapters have been founded in 25 states all with one singular goal: to get women elected into political offices.

Blair Haydon, executive director for Emerge, said the program consists of 70 intensive hours of training. Haydon said from their class, women are connected with a large network of support for potential candidates making the time and cost of the program well worth it.   

Emerge’s slogan, “Your candidacy starts today” is true in every possible way. Upon graduation in June, alumni are asked to run for office within five years.

As of 2018, statistics show a 61 percent win rate among Emerge-Kentucky graduates along with 26 graduates currently serving in office. Additionally, there are over 50 Emerge-Kentucky alumni running in this November’s election.

According to an Emerge handout, “Emerge embraces diversity and encourages applications from all women regardless of age, race, color, national or ethnic origin, marital status, religious affiliation, sexual orientation or physical abilities.” 

In Warren County alone, there are 13 women running for county or state office. One of these candidates is WKU legal history professor, Patti Minter who is also an alumni from last year’s Emerge program.

Minter was elected as the Democratic party nominee for the 20th District in the Kentucky House of Representatives in the May primary. The election for the house seat will be Nov. 6. If Minter wins the seat, she would be the first woman to represent Warren Country.

In the Emerge program, Minter said women are taught the do’s and don’ts of a campaign. She said the goal is to come out completely prepared to run for office. 

“Emerge made sure I was ready to run,” Minter said. “It’s been an incredible, incredible experience.”

From the program, Minter said she also developed a strong network of women who are currently in or running for office. She said men traditionally have informal networks in place which were not open to women.

The event acted as a recruiting reception which Emerge hosts every year. Minter described it as a way for potential participants to learn what the program is about and to meet with women who have gone through the process before.

“I and many other women in this election cycle are living proof that it’s working and it’s lifting up all of our voices and with that the voices of all Kentuckians,” Minter said. 

Rebekah Alvey can be reached at 270-745-6011 and [email protected]. Follow Rebekah Alvey on Twitter at @bekah_alvey.  

Abbigail Nutter can be reached at 270-745-6011 and [email protected]