In the 2018 midterm election, a record number of women were voted into Congress, but the number of Republican women serving in the House and Senate will drop from 23 to 13.
Christina Hagan, the youngest woman ever elected to the Ohio legislature, said conservative women aren’t getting elected as often because it’s more difficult for them to make it through the primary races.
“Our primary process is set to help the more conservative person succeed or the more liberal person succeed,” she said at Fortune‘s Most Powerful Women Next Gen Summit in Laguna Niguel, Calif., on Wednesday. “Unfortunately, in our party, I believe a lot of women are more moderate.”
Hagan gave credit to Rep. Elise Stefanik from New York, who led recruitment for the National Republican Congressional Committee this year. She doubled the number of GOP women candidates for congress, launching more than 100 women into congressional races (though only one, Carol Miller in West Virginia, went on to win a seat).
“What [Stefanik] found was she wasn’t able to get Republican women through the primary because the establishment party was not willing to really participate,” she said. Stefanik challenged the GOP Tuesday to “put their money where their mouth is” when it comes to backing female candidates within the party.
Hagan, 29, decided to run for Congress this year after serving for eight years in the Ohio state legislature, where she has worked on decreasing the state’s budget deficit, crafted controversial labor reform laws, and championed an anti-abortion “heartbeat bill,” which she called “an arrow at the heart of Roe v. Wade.”
“I realized we have a great need for conservative leadership from a young, female perspective,” she said. “I knew I was willing to take the tough votes in the Ohio legislature and I’d be willing to take them in the congress federally, so that’s why I ran for congress this past term.”
Despite aligning herself with President Trump and feeling that she had strong support from the Republican base in her district, Hagan lost the primary. She attributed the loss to the $1.4 million spent against her in the campaign.
“Finances are so key in politics and it’s so unfortunate because someone comes from a blue collar background like me and who has successfully served and legislated doesn’t have as much opportunity as someone who who has direct strings to a purse,” she said.
While Hagan reaffirmed her support for President Trump, she said Republicans lost the House of Representatives due to the failure to move forward with the agenda the president laid out in his campaign.
“When you don’t deliver on campaign promises, people are dissatisfied and they should and they can remove you. I think we’re seeing that pushback,” she said. “I do believe that the president has done a lot of things right, but he’s also failed to deliver on a lot of things that were integral to his mission. I think that he needs to get back on track.”