Not just Congress: Emily's List is pushing Democratic women to flip statehouses, too

CNBC's John Harwood spoke with Stephanie Schriock, president of Emily's List, about how the Democratic political action committee spreads its influence among national and state campaigns. Here is an edited excerpt of their conversation.

Harwood: When you think about your allocation decisions — limited amounts of money, staff time — how do you calibrate now versus the future? That is to say, people running for federal office versus people running for city council, state legislature, all the lower-level things that become the feeder jobs for Congress.

Schriock: We have had to make a big expansion here at Emily's List in our state and local work this year. Not just for the future, but because those that are serving in the legislature today are absolutely rolling back policies. They're devastating women and families in their legislatures.

Harwood: We've got state chapters here today.

Schriock: That's exactly right. We've got our state organizations here. This is a very serious moment in these legislatures, and we more than tripled the size of our staff that recruits for legislative seats alone across this country.

Harwood: Encouraged by Virginia?

Schriock: We were engaged in 16 of those House of Delegate races. Thirteen of those women won; 11 of the 15 pickups were Emily's List candidates. We know that we've got the formula here to get those women up and running and to ensure they've got good staff around them. We're now working with 1,200 women in legislatures. This on top of our wanting to take back the House. That's on top of the Senate work. That's on top of the 10 women we've endorsed for governor.

CNBC's John Harwood speaks with Stephanie Schriock, the president of Emily’s List.
Pat Anastasi | CNBC
CNBC's John Harwood speaks with Stephanie Schriock, the president of Emily’s List.

Harwood: Are there legislatures you think are ripe to be flipped?

Schriock: Many states. Many chambers that can flip over. I mean look at the Florida Senate, and the Colorado Senate, the Minnesota Senate. And in places like Florida where, a lot of Democrats would say, "Oh, that House is impossible." I've got to tell you, there wasn't anybody who thought that the Virginia House of Delegates was going to be close at the end of the day.

If this all starts moving our direction as Democrats, those legislative seats in these state houses, they're going to move fast. So our job is to make sure that there are good, strong, Democratic women running in those seats. And that's exactly what we're doing.

Speakeasy podcast: Listen to John Harwood's discussion with Stephanie Schriock here