Group seeks Democratic women for candidate training

Emerge Maryland, a group dedicated to helping Democratic women run for public office, will begin accepting applications for its course beginning in October and running through April.

“Basically, we train women to be candidates,” said Diane Fink, the organization’s executive director.

The online application process, open through Sept. 7, can be found on the group’s website at emergemaryland.org. Twenty women will be accepted.

The training will provide more than 70 hours of training in areas such as fundraising, campaign management, networking and other skills needed to run a political campaign.

The nonprofit also operates in Arizona, California, Colorado, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, Virginia and Wisconsin.

There were 21 graduates in June from the Maryland program’s first class, and four already have announced plans to run for office, with several more announcements to come, Fink said.

The organization doesn’t have any litmus tests on issues, but participants must be registered Democrats, she said.

While it may seem as if there are more women running for and holding office because of media attention over some controversial topics, they make up only 31 percent of officials on the state and local levels in Maryland, Fink said.

She said she believes some women still have trouble getting into politics because of conventional cultural roles, and many may not realize how much they’ve internalized those roles, she said.

So her group is focused on increasing the number of female Democratic candidates for local offices such as mayor, city council, school board and the General Assembly, hoping to create a pool of candidates to run for higher office down the road.

“We want to build the bench at the local level,” to create a pipeline for higher office, Fink said.

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