Danielle Kurtzleben

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The Federal Election Commission has ruled that federal candidates can use campaign funds to pay for child care costs that result from time spent running for office.

On Thursday, the FEC ruled unanimously, 4-0, in favor of New York Democratic House candidate Liuba Grechen Shirley.

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A record number of women are running for Congress this year, and women candidates fared great in yesterday's primaries. NPR political reporter Daniel Kurtzleben has been tracking those results. She is here to put them in context. Hey, Danielle.

The 2018 midterm primary season is really heating up this week, which means it's time to think about elections — like the 2020 Democratic presidential primaries.

No major candidates have declared that they're preparing a run against President Trump in two years, but whispers are building around potential candidates. A few of them have coalesced around a seriously ambitious policy idea — guaranteeing a job for every American who wants one.

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.

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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.

When Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified before a joint Senate Committee on Wednesday, he led off with a mea culpa. Just a few paragraphs into his opening statement, he took personal responsibility for the disinformation:

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.

All 22 women in the Senate are calling for their fellow lawmakers to do something about sexual harassment.

In a letter written to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., the 17 Democrats and five Republican senators ask that their chamber take up legislation to overhaul the sexual harassment complaint process on Capitol Hill.

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.

On Wednesday, Mississippi became the 49th state to choose its first woman to send to Congress.

The appointment of Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith as Mississippi's junior senator comes 101 years after the first woman, Montana Rep. Jeannette Rankin, went to Congress. Republican Gov. Phil Bryant appointed Hyde-Smith to fill the seat being vacated by Sen. Thad Cochran, who announced that he would resign as of April 1 due to poor health.

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.

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