Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Nancy Pelosi endures typical extra scrutiny on way to potential historic Speakership...

An article in The New York Times today analyzes the spin that GOPers are putting on the fight to not lose 15 seats in the House by making it a campaign to keep Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) from becoming Speaker of the 110th Congress...and btw, the first woman Speaker in U.S. history.

But in addition to demonizing her as a "prehistoric Democrat" per RNC Chair Ken Mehlman or dramatizing her liberal roots as "Nancy Pelosi's Contract with San Francisco" per Florida Congressman Ric Keller, Pelosi critics are also busy speculating as to whether she's had a face-lift (as if needs to look ugly and worn) and stereotypical concern about her hair-style. There's even bi-partisan criticism of her public-speaking style, as if current Speaker Dennis Hastert was the re-incarnation of Cicero.

Why do women have to be perfect, while men get ahead even if they are schlemiels?

Fortunately, the Times article does point out that 10-term Congresswoman -- who would like people to know that she is an Italian-American Catholic grandmother -- is an extremely talented political leader who has the best record of keeping the diverse Democratic caucus united in their voting since 1956. That's the crux of the matter and that's how Pelosi became first Democratic Whip and then Minority Leader in 2002 beating out a Maryland Congressman from the state where she was born.

If the Democrats manage to take back the House, Nancy Pelosi will deserve to be Speaker because of her role in all of that and also because she is qualified for the job. And won't that be something!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Update on ID01 OPEN SEAT...

The results of the Idaho primary for that seat, according to the House Race Hotline (5-24-06):

Sali 18,972--26
Vasquez 13,615--18
Sheila Sorensen 13,466--18
Johnson 13,174--18
Semanko 7,974--11
Brandt 6,404--9

Friday, May 19, 2006

More on the Idaho 01 OPEN SEAT race..

According to today's HouseRace Hotlne:

"State Rep. Shelia Sorensen (R) is the lone [Republican] candidate with an endorsement from a current member of ID's congr. delegation -- state Rep. Mike Simpson (R). Sorensen has a long career as a 'moderate, pro-business' GOPer and 'made news when she killed an anti-gay marriage constitutional amendment in her' State Affairs Cmte 'though the measure passed the next year and is on' the 11/06 ballot. Sorensen, on her campaign: 'I've been to every parade, every fair, every anything that's going on. ... We all have a responsibility to give back to our communities and this is one way I like to do it' (5/6)."

Meanwhile in FLORIDA --

The following are candidates that are guaranteed to have no major-party opposition in '06. Reps. Allen Boyd (D-FL 02) and Corrine Brown (D-FL 03), Adam Putnam (R-FL 12), Robert Wexler (D-FL 19), Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-FL 20) and Alcee Hastings (D-FL 23)..Brown and Wasserman-Schultz may well be the only women in the country on that list so far.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Idaho primary next week, then SUPER Tuesday!

The May 23rd Idaho primary--only one that week--features an OPEN seat contest for ID01, which was Butch Otter's seat. Otter is seeking the Republican nomination for governor and seven Gopers are vying for his seat and three Dems. The only women on the ballot are Republicans Sheila Sorenson (former state senator) and Sandy Patano (former aide to U.S.Senator Larry Craig). The National Journal calls that district "historically Democratic but leaning Republican"...

And on Tuesday, June 6th there are primaries in CA, Iowa, MS, Montana, NJ, NM and South Dakota. Francine Busby (D) is moving in on replacing Duke Cunningham (50-R) -- and the only other OPEN SEAT up for grabs is IA01 (Nussle-R) with no women on the ballot..Lots of other interesting races, stay tuned!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Women 1-2 in contested Penn primary races...

With 96% of the precincts reporting:

4th District

6th District

8th District

(As expected, NOW PAC-endorsed Alan Sandals came in a dismal third in his race for the Democratic U.S. Senate domination.)

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

NOW Pac's endorsements of men U.S. Senate candidates may prove a point, but do absolutely nothing to empower women!

As we await the news that NOW-endorsed U.S. Senate candidate Alan Sandals has been clobbered in the PA Primary, there they go again!

NOW Pac today endorsed Ned Lamont in CT primary against Joe Lieberman. The press release read in part: "NOW PAC is the only political action committee that bases its endorsements on a candidate's support of the full range of feminist issues." But what is the point when a candidacy is D.O.A., and time and money that could have supported a woman candidate somewhere has been squandered. What am I missing?

Does subsidizing a man with access to more resources than a woman might have serve to empower women, even if that candidate was to win the election? Is a feminist man better than a feminist woman or even any woman in the end? One has only to reference studies done by the Center for Women in Politics at Rutgers to see that Republican women support women's issues more than Democrat men!

There is no substitute for women sitting at decision-making tables -- and when we reach 5050X2020, issues that are important to women and to NOW will have dissipated or at least be on their way out. NOW Pac should revisit its priorities and stop worrying about not being fair to men who support their issues -- when we have equal representation and the playing field is really levels, we can then revisit the concept of fair.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Has Emily's List turned over a new leaf --

or is it just playing tag-team politics with the Democratic Party?

For a few years I have been a consistent EList critic, basically because of the few federal candidates it has supported under the cover of building a farm teach, studying women voters, etc. -- meanwhile it has invested millions of your $$$ in the Democratic Party and such tangential activities as supporting John Kerry for president and a few other male candidates. Seems like donors would expect the $$$ to go toward electing women, rather than religiously de-selecting women like the party does.

The big question is whether EList is for the promotion of the Democratic Party or equal representation. I don't mind the support of only Democrat pro-choice women, as EList is not the only game in town. But I do mind that Ellen Malcolm's missives usually include rhetoric extolling the election of Democrats rather than the election of women -- and there is a difference! Meanwhile, the Democratic Party does precious little to elect MORE women to Congress unless it is to their immediate benefit.

This year EList is supporting eighteen federal candidates already, and three for governor...more than usual. Last week EList pledged to spend $11 million dollars toward electing women to Congress to make Nancy Pelosi Speaker of the House, which works very well for all concerned. But in 2004 EList raised a lot more than that -- so where does the rest of the money go, when reaching parity is so important on so many levels?

Meanwhile the DCCC's Blue-to-Red initiative includes five of EList's candidates, but not six others running for OPEN SEATS. It remains to be seen how those two lists dovetail in the coming months or not, and how many Democrat women candidates get help from one or the other. Already, DCCC Chair Emmanuel Rahm has lopped six candidates off his previously disclosed list, four of them women, in his zealous efforts to win the House. But this fascinating political dance is just heating up...to be continued.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Miami-Dade County Elected Women Stuck at 21%

"Every OPEN SEAT A Woman's Seat" must take root on every level -- when political leaders, organizations, and PACs make every effort to recruit women candidates and propel them through a primary and into the general election. People like the idea alright, but we have yet to see any plans from our political parties, whose favorite excuse is "We cannot support candidates in primaries." You can if you want to!

Recently I was in a discussion with the Chair of the Miami-Dade Democratic Party about just that, speaking to the fact that any progress for women comes in mini-steps if at all. We were wondering whether things were better or worse on the local level -- and it turns out that after three years, things are about the same.

In 2003, we ran down the numbers and names of elected women in each of the Florida's 67 counties, including my own Miami-Dade -- women elected to county or municipal offices (not including judges). At that time, there were 40 women elected to a possible 189 positions in 33 municipalities or 21.1 percent. Three years later there are 41 -- and if you add the two new towns of Cutler Bay and Doral, you get 43 women in a possible 199 slots (21.6 percent). This includes the election of a woman to the Miami City Commission earlier this year, the first in more than a dozen years. Overall women hold 11.5% of the mayorships, as compared with the 16% national average...

Women have stood their ground on the County Commission (6 of 12 slots) and on the school board (4 of 9 slots), the same as in 2003...this largely because two women retiring from the commision made it their business to make sure women succeeded them.

Women are forever running hard just to stay in place. The names and faces may change, and but the prohibitive circumstances do not. In fact, when women run in a general election, they make great candidates and often win -- but in the political system we live in it's just VERY hard to get there, and it's usually two steps forward and two (and sometimes three!) steps back.

And those are simply the facts of the matter.

Breaking News: "Four qualify to challenge Harris in GOP primary" (11:36 AM)

(Associated Press)

"Four relatively unknown candidates qualified Friday to challenge U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris in the race to win Florida Republicans' nomination for U.S. Senate.

"They are: LeRoy Collins Jr., son of former Florida Gov. LeRoy Collins; Peter Monroe, a Pinellas County developer who helped manage the government's savings and loan bailout; Windermere businessman William "Will" McBride; and Tampa law professor Belinda Noah. The GOP primary is Sept. 5.

"Gov. Jeb Bush and other Republican leaders have been looking for someone to take on Harris because she trails incumbent Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson by about 30 percentage points in public opinion polls. Bush said earlier this week that he didn't believe Harris could beat Nelson." (AP 5-12-06)

Thursday, May 11, 2006

"Dean and Party Leaders in Money Dispute" -- where should the money go?

So sayeth a short story in today's New York Times, and it's no surprise that the Rahm-Shumer juggernaut does not agree with Howard Dean's plans to strenthen the Dem Party in all 50 states. They want money, more money, all the money to be at their disposal for the current Congressional cycle. Those two heads of the DCCC and the DSCC are pumping money into selected races -- which sounds like a plan, but those plans may or may not be the answer. The track records of those committees are not so good, and the fields are littered with candidates who never got a dime in the past for their efforts to represent Democrats -- and there are candidates out there now feeling the same pain!

Rep. Emmanuel Rahm and Senator Charles Shumer will be hailed as heroes if the Democrats take back the House or Senate, but still questions must be asked about their de-selection processes (also used by the party's sidekick, Emily's List) and cutthroat Red-to-Blue methodologies...But more to the point of today's article and the "heated meeting last week" is the question of investing in party-building, just like the question of investing in the accelerated election of more women to Congress. No time is a good time, but the bullet must be bitten re both long-term tasks. It's not enough to drop everything for any particular cycle or presidential candidate, because everytime the Dems do that they end up with nothing to show for the money or effort. Howard Dean is right to be building from the ground up -- investing in something potentially a lot more profitable than fly-by-nite retail politics that always benefit a few but not our democracy as a whole.

Time to put an end to playing only in some states and playing only with some candidates. Bravo, Howard -- now let's see if you can come up with a plan for equal representation and 5050X2020!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

On the grim subject of Katherine Harris..

For years, people have often replied to my entreaties to elect women with, "Even Katherine Harris?" -- and for years my response has been, "No!" Today I still cannot forgive what happened in my state of Florida in 2004 -- and almost daily I wish that Congresswoman Harris would just give us a break and go away (and take Barry Bonds with her).

But one cannot help noticing how her Republican Party is treating her -- a heroine to many in the stealing of the Florida election, and one of the Top Five (5) fund-raisers for her party nationwide in 2004...now they just can't stop kicking the stuffing out of her any time they can, as if she is the only one with a flawed campaign or links to corruption, lobbyists and whatever. Can anyone name a male candidate with her bonafieds that is being treated like this anywhere???

Now Jeb Bush and others are trying to talk retiring Speaker of the Florida House Allan Bense into challenging Harris (who qualified on Monday). Bense is known to almost no one out of his Panhandle district or Talahassee politics, and rightfully refers to himself as "nobody." No amount of Bush support or money is going to propel Allan Bense or Katherine Harris into the U.S Senate over Bill Nelson in 2006.

The only one who had a chance to bring home the bacon for the Gopers, in my humble opinion, was Lt. Governor Toni Jennings -- who had Jeb Bush's backing to run for Governor, but did not...

FYI -- Today's Miami Herald profiles Bense and his "small government" politics. It also delves into his small mind as far as women are concerned: "Concerned that his daughter, then a legislative lobbyist, would be accused of having improper influence, Bense asked Courtney to give up her career when he became speaker. 'It was hard to hear,' said Courtney Bense, who now runs a women's boutique in Tallahassee and says it was the right decision to quit lobbying. 'I just loved my job.'" I'm no fan of lobbyists, but is he going to get her job back for her now?

Oops -- even the National Journal makes mistakes (RE Nebraska Primary)

Looks like Maxine Moul did have a primary after all, and according to this morning's Early Bird "Campaign News": " 'Former Lt. Gov. Maxine Moul won the Democratic nomination Tuesday in her primary race for' Nebraska's 1st District, the Lincoln Journal Star reports. 'Moul, 58, faced James Wilson of Lincoln for the right to challenge Republican" Rep. Jeff Fortenberry' in the Nov. 7 general election." The state election site reports that she won by 71-29%...Mr. Tom Osborne (03-R), by-the-way, is now out of politics!

And " In West Virginia, Mike Callaghan, 'a former federal prosecutor, edged out Mark Hunt and Richie Robb in the Democratic primary election for the 2nd Congressional District,' and he will face Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R) in November, the Charleston Daily Mail reports...

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Primaries today in Nebraska and West Virginia, and women did not apply!

Today's primaries in Nebraska and West Virginia feature one OPEN SEAT: NE03, vacated by the former football coach Tom Osborne (R) who is now running for governor. No woman is among nine (9) Republicans and two Democrats who are vying for the nomination. While I have not spared the rod discussing the failures of the Democratic Party regarding a plan for equal representation sooner rather than later, I need to say loud-and-clear to the Gopers, "What's up with no women running for Osborne's OPEN SEAT?" Surely there was qualified Cornhusker alumna in that CD to be found!

Indeed, there are no women whatsoever on the ballots for Congress in either state today -- where a total of six seats (3+3) are at ultimately stake. In November, Shelly Moore Caputo (WV02-R) will be defending her seat -- and in Nebraska, Maxine Moul (D), former lieutenant governor, will be challenging Jeff Fortenberry (01-R). If Maxine doesn't make it, Nebraska will remain on the Black List of 19 states that do not have a single woman in either the U.S. House or Senate. Shame on them!

(You can check the complete Black List HERE.)

Monday, May 08, 2006

should now pac endorse men??

perusal of the now pac website gives one pause...i can understand why the pac wanted to endorse attorney alan sandals for the pennsylvania u.s. senate seat race, but should it have done so?

in that race the democratic party has shown again that retail politics trump principle. that is not surprising, but certainly disturbing to loyal women party members. the party calls upon women time-and-time again for dollars and countless volunteer hours -- but when push comes to shove, women and their priorities take a back seat...and all in the name of democracy. party leaders and consultants shoved highly-qualified, pro-choice barbara hafer out of the race and pulled in anti-abortion bob casey, jr. to do its bidding in 2006 against rick santorum.

no less apalling was a fundraiser for casey held in philadelphia on march 27th by former secretary of state madeleine albright and co-hosted by the nine democrat women u.s. senators (yes, that would be all of them) -- in the name of showing that it was ok for women to support mr. casey. were any of those women senators at least holding their nose?

the sandals' campaign isn't going anywhere and will be over on may 16th -- but until then, women will expend energy and resources on a candidacy doa. now does have its principles, but do cast-in-cement principles and politics really mix? do now pac's pledge to "elect feminists" and "rigorous" criteria really serve the cause of women? for every man now pac endorses, attention and $$$ are taken away from women candidates who they may also endorse but not help very much. why can't limited resources go to empowering women?

the democratic party should temporarily suspend its (oft-ignored) "no endorsements in primaries" rules to help propel women into more OPEN SEATS between now and 2020 --but now pac should do its part by not endorsing men during that period either, in order to throw all its resources to women who meet their criteria.

what women need is a political power base of our own, our fair share of seats at decision-making tables in congress and elsewhere. past history has shown that surrogates and their promises are not the answer -- and even though women might also disappoint on occasion, it's time for women to go all out supporting women for the sake of parity and changing the course of this nation.

what do we have to lose?

Friday, May 05, 2006

OPEN SEATS past seven cycles --

U.S. House OPEN SEATS statistics (HOTLINE 5-5-06):

1992: 62 (41D, 21R)*
1994: 48 (28D, 20R)
1996: 53 (30D, 23R)
1998: 17 (8D, 9R)
2000: 35 (9D, 26R)
2002: 47*
2004: 29 (11D, 18R)
* includes "open seats" created by redistricting