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National NOW Times >> Winter 2007  >> Article

Activists Work on Progressive Candidate Elections and Ballot Initiatives

By Melody Drnach, Action Vice President

Now activists, including (front row) former Virginia NOW State Coordinator Emily McCoy, Virginia NOW President Marj Signer, (back row) NOW staffer Pat Reuss, VA NOW member Barbara Haley, Feder staffer P.J. Patel, and NOW intern Marilu Gresens, phone bank for candidate Judy Feder before the November election.

NOW staff photo by Marilu Gresens

Now activists, including (front row) former Virginia NOW State Coordinator Emily McCoy, Virginia NOW President Marj Signer, (back row) NOW staffer Pat Reuss, VA NOW member Barbara Haley, Feder staffer P.J. Patel, and NOW intern Marilu Gresens, phone bank for candidate Judy Feder before the November election.

Activists worked day and night on hundreds of campaigns this fall to elect feminist candidates. Our collective efforts helped to achieve a milestone, electing the first woman to serve as Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif). Speaker Pelosi, a self-proclaimed feminist and NOW PAC endorsee, will become the highest ranking woman in the history of American politics. For many activists there was an added bonus for their efforts — NOW members and leaders (see story here) were elected in races across the country.

According to Linda Berg, NOW's Political Director, "Activists were busy working in a number of states, and many of the races supported by the NOW PAC were decided by a very small number of votes. In addition to enormous activist support, we deployed NOW PAC staff to campaigns in Pennsylvania, New Mexico, Connecticut, Maryland, Ohio, Virginia, Indiana, and South Dakota to identify and turn out women's votes.

"NOW PAC organizers in Washington state ran a project to re-elect Rick Larson and elect Darcy Burner and Peter Goldmark to Congress. We also worked on ballot initiatives in Michigan, Arizona, and South Dakota, and NOW's national officers spent time in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Connecticut, Maryland, and Idaho in support of NOW PAC candidates."

NOW staffer Erin Hanna (left) and Action VP Melody Drnach (right) worked to elect Mary Jo Kilroy (center).

NOW staff photo by Jody Scarbrough

NOW staffer Erin Hanna (left) and Action VP Melody Drnach (right) worked to elect Mary Jo Kilroy (center).

"Ohio is one of the states where we put a great deal of energy," according to Berg, "It was a hotbed of election activity, and NOW PAC staff and NOW activists were out in force working on many of the victorious campaigns, including the closely watched races of Sherrod Brown for Senate and Betty Sutton and Mary Jo Kilroy for Congress."

NOW members and leaders were active in electing women and feminists in contested races across the country, taking leadership as candidates, campaign managers, volunteer coordinators, phone-bank and canvass managers, and the most important job of all — volunteers. Knowing how much was at stake for our rights and for future generations, NOW activists pulled out all the stops.

Right now, we're celebrating our role in making possible the first female Speaker of the House – but 2008 is right around the corner and NOW PAC is busy identifying and recruiting more women into the political pipeline. There is much more work ahead, and we welcome the challenge.

For more about NOW's role in ballot measures, see stories about initiatives and the anti-marriage ballot measures. To help NOW PAC prepare for the challenges of 2008, make a contribution at www.nowpacs.org.

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