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These women could make history in Pennsylvania | Editorial

Women can bring expertise, focus, and understanding to the issues of health care, reproductive rights, education, family issues, workplace issues, gun safety, and more.

Women running for office in Pa.
Women running for office in Pa.Read moreAP / Staff

The photographs we're featuring here are unusual for a number of reasons:  We typically don't run so many  images with an editorial, and we typically don't feature candidates running for office in districts far beyond our coverage area.

But these photos are unusual for a much bigger reason: These are the women running for Congress in a state that has a terrible track record for female representation. With so many women running, these images represent history in the making for Pennsylvania.

Consider: In a state where women are 51 percent of the population, our congressional delegation of 18 is all male. We're one of just 11 states with no women in Congress.

Former Rep. Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky was the first woman to win a congressional election in Pennsylvania without succeeding her husband. That was 1993. Three women preceded her as members of the Pennsylvania delegation, but in each case, they were elected to their late husbands' seats. Three women have followed her, including former Rep. Allyson Schwartz, who left to run for governor four years ago.

How do the interests and concerns of half the population get understood and represented in Congress without women in office?   While not exclusively the concern of women, they can bring expertise, focus, and understanding to the issues of health care, reproductive rights, education, family, workplace, gun safety, and more.  Without a better balance in Congress, those issues often become marginalized and not given the weight they deserve.   And  a polarized lawmaking body gets further mired in strife and inaction.

This is the 21st century. Do we really need to spell out the value of full representation?

Some of the women shown here are in races we were not able to include in our endorsement process of meeting and interviewing candidates. But we have no hesitation in endorsing their candidacies as another reason to take these midterm elections seriously. Pennsylvania won't progress until the imbalance in representation is rectified.

Here are the races:

Madeleine Dean is running in the Fourth District.  We endorsed her in the primary, citing her support for gun control as a founder of PA SAFE, a caucus of state legislators and firearm safety advocates.

Two women vie for the Fifth District — Pearl Kim and Mary Gay Scanlon We did not meet with Pearl Kim, a special-victims prosecutor in the Delaware County District Attorney's Office;  we endorsed Scanlon, a lawyer and community activist, in the May primary, calling her a "standout."   It's important to note they will appear on some ballots twice: in a special election to fill a seat left when U.S. Rep. Pat Meehan resigned and the general election in a newly drawn Fifth District.

These candidates represent a new era in Pennsylvania  — and a chance for your vote to help make history.