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Emily’s List, the Democratic political action group that recruits and supports pro-choice female candidates, is rolling out its list of this year’s rising-star legislators and officials that it hopes will one day lead the Democratic Party.
In an announcement on Monday, the group announced the nominees for its 2017 Gabrielle Giffords Rising Star Award, which notes exemplary local service and civility.
The nominees included a number of state and local officials from key battleground states like Flagstaff, Arizona Mayor Coral Evans, Philadelphia City Councilwoman Helen Gym, Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway, Seattle City Councilwoman Lorena González, Nevada Assemblywoman Teresa Benitez-Thompson, and Virginia State Senator Jennifer McClellan.
“When women’s rights are being threatened on a daily basis, the work of Emily’s List is vital,” Evans said in a telephone interview. “They’re doing a lot of work to help build the bench locally as well as state wide.”
The winner will speak at the group’s annual gala next month alongside Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who will keynote the event amid pressure for her to seek the presidency in 2020. The keynote address at the event carries some significance: Hillary Clinton headlined the gala in 2015, teasing her own presidential bid before launching her campaign a month later.
Like many Democratic groups, Emily’s List has attempted to harness the groundswell of grassroots Democratic discontent with President Donald Trump, shifting its focus to smaller races where it hopes to cultivate future rising stars.
In the months since Clinton’s loss, over 10,000 women have expressed interest in running for office, a number that far dwarfs the 1,000 women who expressed interest during the 2016 campaign.
Emily’s List announced earlier this year that it would double its budget to at least $6 million and triple the staff working on state and local races. To that effect, it has hosted several training sessions for women interested in running for office in Washington and Arizona.
Throughout its 32-year existence, Emily’s List focused primarily on congressional races, and did not spend directly on candidates until last election cycle.
“At a time when our most fundamental principles are under attack, we need strong, pro-choice Democratic women leaders working in our states and cities to fight back against this administration and its GOP allies,” EMILY’s List President Stephanie Schriock said in a release. “These women represent the bright future of the Democratic Party and have a history of displaying strong leadership and fighting on the front lines of resistance to the Republican Party’s dangerous and undemocratic agenda.”