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As more women run for office, child care remains a hurdle

Female candidates say the expense is an unnecessary barrier and shows why more women are needed in positions of power.
Credit: AP
This undated photo provided by the Luz Escamilla Campaign shows Utah lawmaker and Salt Lake City former mayoral candidate Luz Escamilla with her husband Juan Carlos and three of her children, Aileen, Sol and Cielo, in Salt Lake City. She was among the first candidates to use a new Utah law that allows campaign money to be used for childcare. A small but growing number of states are passing similar measures, something that advocates say will allow more women to run for office amid a historic rise in the number of female candidates around the country. (Brandon Cruz/Luz Escamilla Campaign via AP)

Women are expected to run for office in high numbers in 2020, but many of them face financial hurdles paying for child care while they campaign. 

Candidates for federal office can tap their campaign accounts to pay for it, but it's a patchwork at the state level. Just six states have laws specifically allowing the use of campaign money for child care. In most states, the law is silent on the issue and up to interpretation. Agencies in at least nine states have allowed child care to be a campaign-related expense, but those decisions are not law and could be reversed, according to the Associated Press.

“It just seems behind the times,” Kimberly Dudik, who is running for Montana attorney general, told the Associated Press. Dudik's family is living off her husband's income and savings from her work as a lawyer. “When it was a man campaigning, the woman was traditionally the one to stay home and take care of the children. There is not someone home just taking care of the kids.”

Female candidates say the expense is an unnecessary barrier and shows why more women are needed in positions of power.  

“When we look at the statistics in terms of representatives in Congress or statewide office and you don’t see single moms in that category, that’s why,” said Amber McReynolds, a former chief elections officer in Denver told the Associated Press. “The circumstances are just that much more difficult when you are in politics.” McReynolds decided against running for a statewide office in 2017 because of the cost of childcare.

“If we want more women running for office, we need to make allowances to make that a reality and not just give lip service to it,” Dudik said.

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