[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/07/27/art.fiorina.file9.gi.jpg
caption="This election cycle has seen an increase in competitive Republican female candidates."]
Washington (CNN) - While 2010 might be the year of the Tea Party, a second storyline is the rise of Republican women candidates.
In the 2010 election cycle, five female Republican candidates are running in competitive Senate seats. And a slew of Republican women are running in congressional and gubernatorial races that have made national headlines.
So why the increase this year?
Republican strategist Leslie Sanchez says former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin is a catalyst.
"She opened the door and showed that women could pass the money test," Sanchez said.
Palin also appeals to a certain group for women - pro-life, evangelicals, mothers and fiscal conservatives - who have wanted to be a part of the system for a long time, Sanchez said.