Women are running for office in record numbers this year. Democrats are fueling that trend nationwide, particularly as several prominent Republican women leave office.
But in the traditionally GOP-leaning Tennessee, which holds primary elections Thursday, Republican women are on the verge of making history.
Tennessee's two marquee races this year — for U.S. senator and governor — feature GOP women who have a good shot to win this fall in a state that has never had a woman serve in the Senate or in the governor's office.
In one race, Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn is running to fill GOP Sen. Bob Corker's seat, since he opted not to pursue re-election. In the other key race, Blackburn's congressional colleague Rep. Diane Black is running for governor in a tight GOP primary contest.
While an eventual win by either Blackburn or Black would break barriers, neither woman has made gender a key part of their campaigns. In conservative Tennessee, some experts argue, they might not need to. Here, female GOP candidates tout their support for President Donald Trump, and not necessarily their experience as women in a male-dominated political arena.
"These two women don't talk about gender because that's who they are. They are tied to conservative politics," Kelly Dittmar, a political science professor at Rutgers University's Center for American Women and Politics, said of Blackburn and Black. "They're not strategically sitting at home and saying, 'Let's not talk about gender.' These women have been explicit in that they don't root politics in their gender."