Count the Battle Victories, but Prepare for Senate War….
December 10, 2009 by Amy Siskind
It’s been a good week for women.
- We can notch a victory for the Mammogram Coverage Amendment sponsored by Senator Mikulski (D) Senator Snowe (R).
- We can celebrate AG Martha Coakley winning her battle to become the Democratic nominee for Ted Kennedy’s open seat in MA. Given that MA is heavily Democratic, Coakley looks to be a shoe in to become that state’s first female senator AND raise our count of women in the Senate to 18!
- Those of us that are pro-choice can be proud of the women of BOTH parties in the Senate that voted together to keep Senator Nelson’s language out of the healthcare bill.
- We can celebrate the two women who won this year’s Nobel Prize in Medicine spoke out and called for gender balance in the sciences.
But as women awaken and start to demand change, a big battle lies ahead: the 2010 elections.
A major shortcoming of many of existing women’s organizations is their failure to back women candidates of both parties. That myopic view could significantly hurt our representation in 2010.
Women are diverse just as are our political points of view. In 2000, the “Soccer Moms” delivered the presidency to George W. Bush. In 2008, women delivered for the Dems with 56% voting for Obama. So women, yes, come in every political ideology.
When our women’s groups are only set up to cultivate women who are Democratic, we lose out. Here’s the problem – the exogenous factors – we can’t control the winds of politics.
And 2010 is a prime example of the shortcoming of some women’s orgs who continue to serve as appendages of the DNC. Once they take off the party hats in Boston, they better take a sobering look into 2010 and the existing 17 senate seats held by women.
And it’s not the women senators fault. Look what just happened in VA and NJ. Look at Obama’s poll numbers drop to 47% (making history as the lowest number of ANY president at this point in an administration) – this is not only about Obama – it’s a building anger with how our government is running our country. And if things don’t improve in the first half of 2010, voters will exact revenge at the polls.
And here’s why it matters to women in the senate:
Of the 10 seats in the senate that are most vulnerable in 2010, four are held by women: Lincoln in AK, Landrieu in LA, Gillibrand in NY, and Boxer in CA. On the face of it, if things don’t change our count in the senate could move back to 14 (assuming Coakley wins, 13 if not).
But here’s the potential mitigating factor: women running in the Republican Party. If Boxer loses, it will be to Fiorina. Of the 10 most vulnerable seats, one is Reid in NV and he is well behind Sue Lowden (who one blogger referred to as a Nevada version of Sarah Palin), potentially the Republican candidate there. Same for CT and Dodd -also a vulnerable seat – where Linda McMahon is one of three Republicans looking to face off against him.
Lesson learned – we need qualified women in all parties. And if some of us don’t agree with their every ideology that’s just fine. Let’s work with them on the commonality and communicate why our position might be important for women’s well being. But if we only work to promote women of one party, then the winds of politics will literally blow our hard work away….