Danielle Kurtzleben

Danielle Kurtzleben is a political reporter assigned to NPR's Washington Desk. She appears on NPR shows, writes for the web, and is a regular on the NPR Politics Podcast. Her reporting is wide-ranging, with particular focuses on gender politics, demographics, and economic policy.

Before joining NPR in 2015, Kurtzleben spent a year as a correspondent for Vox.com. As part of the site's original reporting team, she covered economics and business news.

Prior to Vox.com, Kurtzleben was with U.S. News & World Report for nearly four years, where she covered the economy, campaign finance and demographic issues. As associate editor, she launched Data Mine, a data visualization blog on usnews.com.

A native of Titonka, Iowa, Kurtzleben has a bachelor's degree in English from Carleton College. She also holds a master's degree in Global Communication from George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs.

Editor's note: NPR is examining the role of women in the 2018 midterm elections all week. To follow upcoming coverage and look back at how the role of women in the 2014 midterms was covered, click here.

Lauren Underwood, Democratic House candidate in Illinois' 14th district, is part of a record boom of women running for office in 2018 – from Congress to governorships to state legislatures across the country.

But she didn't just wake up one day and decide this was the year.

In October of 2013, the federal government shut down for 16 days — the third longest shutdown in history. A few women in particular came together to end the gridlock, including Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins and Minnesota Democrat Sen. Amy Klobuchar.

Liuba Grechen Shirley has a son who's almost two and a daughter who's almost four. And until recently, the stay-at-home mom and freelance consultant had her childcare routine down.

"The bulk of the child care during the day was up to me," she said. And when she had work to do, she'd get help with watching the kids — but it was free.

"My mother is a teacher. She comes home at 3:30 every afternoon, and she would watch my children from 3:30 on, and that's when I'd start consulting," Grechen Shirley said.

A record number of women — 309 — had filed to run for the U.S. House as of April 6. That's a nearly 90-percent increase over 2016's numbers.

That wave of women candidates has sent the share of candidates who are women skyrocketing...to 22 percent.

Suburban women get a lot of attention from politicians these days.

"Suburban moms" were the driving force behind Democrat Jon Ossoff's (ultimately losing) campaign in Georgia's special congressional election last spring.

Mary Wilson raised just under $40,000 for her Texas congressional campaign. One of her opponents, Joseph Kopser, raised $774,000, but she came in first in the Democratic primary for the 21st Congressional District near Austin and San Antonio.

Not only did she outdo Kopser, whom she will face in a May runoff, but Wilson also defeated two other men who had much larger campaign war chests than she did.

It just so happens that Wilson did all this in a year when female candidates have energized Democratic voters. So did being a woman help Wilson?

She says yes.

Lauren Underwood is optimistic about her chances of winning a seat in Congress.

"This seat is 100 percent at play. It's winnable," the Democratic candidate says of the Illinois 14th Congressional District, which stretches along the western and northern sides of Chicago's outer suburbs.

There is little question that when President Trump holds a rally in Moon Township, Pa., on Saturday night, he will tout the tariffs he imposed on imported steel and aluminum this week.

Western Pennsylvania is steel country, after all, so his message should play well there. But it will likely resonate with millions of other Americans, well beyond steel plants.

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