Women Make Up About One-third of NJ Legislature — Is That Good?
Following the pattern of many other states, women's representation is lacking in the New Jersey Legislature, according to 2023 rankings from the Center for American Women and Politics.
In New Jersey, women hold 35% of the legislative seats: 11 out of 40 in the Senate, and 42 out of 120 in the Assembly, finds the report out of CAWP, a unit of the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers.
Twenty-eight of the women are Democrats, and 14 are Republicans.
For many years in this report, New Jersey ranked in the bottom 10 with states like Alabama and Mississippi for the share of women serving in the state legislature. But more recently, New Jersey managed to reach the top 10 for a couple of cycles.
Now we're in the middle of the pack. New Jersey ranks No. 21 among the states. That's down from No. 17 in 2022.
"We've been outpaced by other states," said Debbie Walsh, CAWP director.
The share of seats held by women in the Garden State falls almost right in line with the U.S. as a whole. Nationwide, women hold 32.7% of all state legislative seats, and that's a record high.
For the first time ever, according to the report, more than one state reached or surpassed "gender parity." In Nevada, women hold 62% of seats. The rate is 50% in Colorado.
Women of color make up close to two thirds of the women who serve in the New Jersey Legislature, Walsh noted.
"We live in a country that prides itself on the concept of representative democracy," Walsh said. "We want to make sure that we see diversity by gender, by race, by sexual orientation. We want to make sure that different voices are at the table."
NJ 2023 legislative races
All 120 seats of the Legislature are up for grabs in 2023.
A handful of women have already officially declared that they will not be running for re-election; some of those decisions are the result of legislative redistricting.
Sadaf Jaffer, D-Mercer, announced earlier this year that she won't run for a second term. In 2021, Jaffer and a colleague became the first Asian-Pacific Islander women to be elected to a New Jersey legislative seat.
Sen. Jean Stanfield, R-Burlington, has also announced that she will not seek a second term.
Following one full term, Republican Assemblywoman DeAnne DeFuccio has decided not to run for re-election.
Two Democratic Assembly members from District 33, Annette Chaparro and Angelica Jimenez, will not be on the ballot in November.
Assemblywoman Mila Jasey, D-Essex, will not run to fill the seat she's held since 2007.