Feminists Foresee '06 Victories
by Linda Berg, Political Director
The National Organization for Women's Political Action Committee intends to seize every opportunity to support candidates who challenge the right wing and are champions of women's rights. The inability of progressive senators to put together a strong coalition to block Samuel Alito's confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court has made us acutely aware that we need to elect more senators with the backbone to stand up for our rights.
There are currently only 14 female senators—and it is clear that we must send them reinforcements. Voters in Minnesota have a terrific opportunity to fill Mark Dayton's open Senate seat with a woman who supports women's rights. State Atty. Gen. Amy Klobuchar, who faced her own healthcare crisis when she was forced out of the hospital 24 hours after giving birth to a critically ill child, successfully lobbied the state legislature to pass one of the first laws requiring insurers to cover a minimum 48-hour hospital stay for childbirth. She will be a senator women can trust to fight for health care for women and children.
In Missouri, State Auditor Claire McCaskill, a strong supporter of reproductive rights, is challenging Sen. Jim Talent, whose views on women's issues are so extreme that he opposes all stem-cell research and advocated eliminating all federal assistance to mothers who are unmarried and under the age of 21.
Out of the 435 voting members of the House of Representatives, only 67 are women. It is imperative that more women be elected to give voice to our issues. We are enthusiastic about a number of women candidates who are running for the House this year.
In San Diego, feminist school board member Francine Busby was the leading vote-getter with 45 percent of the vote in an 18-candidate free-for-all to fill the seat of Republican Duke Cunningham, who is headed to prison for corruption in the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal. NOW PAC recruited many volunteers and sent senior staff to assist in the final phase of the campaign. Busby won a spot in the June runoff, which will coincide with the regular 2006 congressional primary. NOW PAC will be there for Busby as she navigates both of those elections and the November general election.
Busby's success is just one sign that voters are fed up with the incompetence and corruption of the radical right. There are many other opportunities for NOW PAC, supported entirely by contributions from NOW members, to help elect top-notch feminist candidates. Imagine former Rep. Shirley Chisholm's seat in New York's 11th District again occupied by an outspoken woman, City Councilwoman Yvette Clarke. Wouldn't it also be delicious to see the district represented by Henry Hyde in Illinois, who distinguished himself by his attacks on poor women, elect a woman in his stead?
And there are more. Whenever the right wing needs to put a woman's face in public to justify their military exploits, they call on Rep. Heather Wilson of New Mexico. We will be working hard to elect that state's strong Attorney General Patricia Madrid to take her seat. Rep. Marilyn Musgrave of Colorado is the author of perhaps the most vitriolic, homophobic Congressional legislation in history. How gratifying it would be to replace her with a progressive state representative, Angie Paccione.
In a rare but exciting development, NOW PAC has endorsed strong women's rights advocates in both the Democratic and Republican primaries in southeast Michigan. If radio talk show host Nancy Skinner (D) and State Rep. Patricia Godchaux (R) each prevail in their respective primaries, we will have realized a dream of having only feminist candidates to choose from in a congressional race.
We have the opportunity for true gains in feminist representation in Congress, but it will take an enormous amount of work and commitment from NOW members across the country. NOW PAC pledges to use every resource at our command to turn these opportunities into real progress for women in politics.
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