After Jenny Horne, a Summerville attorney, narrowly lost a special House election in 2006, she salved her wounds with tips on how to win next time.
An event put on by the newly formed Southeastern Institute of Women in Politics showed Horne how to win.
"I learned about fundraising, campaigning, grass-roots organizing," said Horne, who won that same Charleston County House seat in 2008. "Everything I learned was very useful. And I heard it from women lawmakers who've run themselves and done it successfully."
Today the institute, a nonpartisan nonprofit that encourages and supports women interested in running for office, will hold a press conference and reception to embolden more women to run for office and to urge voters to support them.
The events come a few days before the convening of the General Assembly, which has no female senators and only 17 female House members out of its 124 state representatives.
South Carolina ranks last among states in female representation in state government, although more than half of voters are women.
In 1992, the state's high mark, 22 members - or nearly 13 percent of the General Assembly - were female.
"I was a page at the State House that year. We're going in the opposite direction of where we need to be," said Horne, who is an incoming institute board member.
In the state's last general election, 24 S.C. women ran for the House or Senate and 17 won.
The institute's goal: triple the number of women running for office in 2012 and maintain that lead in the 2014 elections.
"I noticed a disturbing trend a few years ago. Fewer and fewer women were running for office in South Carolina," said Skip Webb, a long-time political consultant and founder of the institute.
"Something had to be done to reverse that process," said Webb, whose clientele does not include any institute participants.
Why does female representation matter?
Some research suggests women do a better job of representing voters.
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