Who was Wynona Lipman, and why do I need to know about her?

 
Michel Martin
NPR Host Michel Martin

As CAWP gets ready to welcome NPR’s Michel Martin as this year’s Senator Wynona Lipman Lecturer in Women’s Political Leadership, you might sign up to attend without knowing anything about the woman for whom the lectureship is named. Your interest might be further piqued by discovering the roster of extraordinary African American women who have already been Lipman Lecturers; beginning with Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm, the list includes powerhouses such as former Labor Secretary Alexis Herman, law professor Patricia Williams, Senator and Ambassador  Carol Moseley Braun, political strategist Donna Brazile,  Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, PBS host Gwen Ifill,  Obama advisors Valerie Jarrett and  Melody Barnes, and NPR host Michele Norris. Who was the woman whose life we celebrate with these exciting annual lectures? As we wind up Black History Month and head into Women’s History Month, it’s an appropriate moment to find out.

Senator Wynona Lipman was the first African American woman in New Jersey’s State Senate, serving from 1971 until her death in 1999. A Georgia native, Lipman earned her Ph.D. in French at Columbia and taught for many years, confronting racism that kept her from a full-time professorship in her area of expertise. She got involved with politics through the local PTA and NAACP, ultimately becoming the chairman of Montclair’s Democrats and then an Essex County Freeholder before moving up to the State Senate. Her biography  provides the details.

Senator Wynona Lipman

But the heart of the story is this: Throughout her more than quarter-century tenure in Trenton, Senator Lipman carried the water on almost every key piece of legislation for women, children, families, small businesses, and minorities. We asked Alma Saravia, Senator Lipman’s longtime aide, for reminiscences about the path-breaking senator. In her words: I worked with Senator Lipman for many years as the Executive Director of the Commission on Sex Discrimination in the Statutes.  The Commission was mandated to conduct a systematic study of the statutes to determine whether the laws were discriminatory or whether the absence thereof resulted in women being denied full equal protection under the law.  As Senator Lipman stated:  “[m]any of the state’s laws contain discriminatory provisions based upon sex and reflect policy judgments which are no longer accepted by our society.”  (Trenton Times, June 28, 1979) The legislation enacted as a result of her considerable efforts changed the lives of many of New Jersey’s citizens.  Senator Lipman’s distinguished legislative record included sponsoring bills related to her deep-seated commitment to children’s rights, the rights of women and the disenfranchised and to assuring that health care and essential services were provided to New Jersey’s residents.  Her record of getting more bills signed into law than most legislators stands today. In addition, Senator Lipman’s powers of persuasion were legendary.  When she wanted a bill to go forward she passionately advocated for her legislation and she often “wore down” her colleagues. Senator Lipman knew that there was strength in numbers.  Many of the bills recommended by the Commission were enacted with the strong support of other organizations or individuals.  From law professors to ordinary citizens, Senator Lipman understood that their voices counted in lobbying for a bill. With the formation of alliances came the knowledge that compromises must be made – a “half a loaf is better than none.”    There is also no doubt that Senator Lipman’s legislative success was attributable to her strong belief in the need for the legislation.  Whether it was the establishment of the State’s first domestic violence act, child support laws, the parentage act, economic equity legislation, recognizing Advanced Practice Nurses, or AIDS related legislation, her ground-breaking bills reflected her belief in those issues.  There was no mistaking her deep passion and commitment to social justice and equality. What would Senator Lipman be doing today if she were still in the Senate? No doubt addressing the same kinds of issues, speaking out loudly on behalf of the under-represented, and bringing both her intellect and her powers of persuasion to bear to identify and banish all vestiges of discrimination. In her absence, we draw on the wisdom of the Lipman lecturers to point us toward what others must do to move forward.  

#WomenVote2014: Tracking the Gender Gap and the Women’s Vote in 2014

Much attention has been paid to women voters throughout the 2014 cycle, whether by candidates or commentators. Most recently, some political observers have questioned whether or not the gender-specific political messages or themes evident in this cycle have resonated with women and, if so, with which women. Others have asked whether or not targeting women voters is effective at all, raising questions about why women are so important to electoral outcomes. In this outlook, we prepare for Election Day by highlighting the historic facts about women voters and the gender gap, while clarifying the distinction between the women’s vote and the gender gap. In this election cycle media reports have frequently confused the two, actually reporting on the women’s vote but calling it the gender gap.We also present both measures (the women’s vote and the gender gap) from the most recent polls in competitive contests for governor and the U.S. Senate, demonstrating that historic trends persist in 2014; across nearly all contests, women are more likely than men to support the Democratic candidates. The Women’s Vote vs. The Gender Gap Media coverage this election season has featured some confusing mislabeling of the gender gap and women’s voting patterns. To clarify: The Gender Gap in voting is the difference between the proportions of women and men who support a given candidate, generally the leading or winning candidate. It is the gap between the genders, not within a gender.

[% Women for Leading or Winning Candidate] – [% Men for Leading or Winning Candidate] = Gender Gap

The Women's Vote describes the division in women’s support for major party candidates in any given race. It is the percentage-point advantage that one candidate has over the other among women voters – that is, the difference in women’s support for the Democratic and Republican candidates.

[% Women for Leading Party’s Candidate] – [% Women for Trailing Party’s Candidate] = Women's Vote

This distinction is important because even when women and men favor the same candidate, they usually do so by different margins, resulting in a gender gap.  For example, we frequently see a gender gaps even in races where the women’s vote breaks for the Republican - i.e., where more women voters prefer the Republican candidate than the Democratic candidate. The FACTS on Why Women’s Votes Matter
  • Women vote in higher numbers than men and have done so in every election since 1964. In 2012, 9.8 million more women than men voted. Women have voted at higher rates than men since 1980. In 2012, 63.7% of eligible female adults went to the polls, compared to 59.8% of eligible male adults. Even in midterm elections, when voter turnout is lower among men and women, women vote in higher numbers and at higher rates than men.
  • More women than men register to vote. Some 81.7 million women were registered to vote in 2012, compared to 71.4 million men.
  • There has been a gender gap in every presidential election since 1980. In the 2012 election, women were 10 percentage points more likely than men to vote for Barack Obama (55% of women vs. 45% of men), according to the exit poll conducted by Edison Research. Gender gaps were also evident in major races for governor and the U.S. Senate in 2012, with women’s votes critical to Democratic candidates’ success.
  • There also has been a gender gap in congressional voting in every recent midterm election. In 2010 there was a 6-point gender gap, with 51% of women compared with 57% of men voting for the Republican candidate in their district.  In 2006, there was a 4-point gender gap, with 56% of women and 52% of men voting for the Democratic candidate in their district. 
Gender, Voting, and the 2014 Election The tables below report the gender gaps and women’s vote evident in polls in the 11 most competitive U.S. Senate contests and 18 most competitive gubernatorial contests in 2014.  In most (but not all) races the women’s vote favors the Democratic candidate.  Gender gaps are evident in all races, although some are within the margin of error for the poll. The results reported here are from the latest polls available via Real Clear Politics where gender breakdowns were made publicly available. Two polls are reported in Georgia’s Senate and gubernatorial races because the gender results – both from the same time period – differed significantly. Competitive Senate Contests
State Candidate Overall Gender Gap Women's Vote Women  Men Date/Source
AK Mark Begich (D) Dan Sullivan (R) 44% 48% 20 pts. +17% Begich 54% 37% 34% 57% NYTimes/CBS News/YouGov (Oct. 16-23)
AR Mary Pryor (D) Tom Cotton (R) 41% 49% 15 pts. +4% Pryor 46% 42% 35% 57% Public Policy Polling Oct. 30 -Nov. 1) 
CO Mark Udall (D) Cory Gardner (R) 44% 46% 11 pts. +6% Udall 47% 41% 40% 52% Denver Post/SurveyUSA (Oct. 27-29)
GA Michelle Nunn (D) David Perdue (R) 46.6% 47.4% 14 pts. +12% Nunn 53% 41% 39% 55% WSB/Landmark (Oct. 29)
Michelle Nunn (D) David Perdue (R) 44% 48% 2 pts. +2% Perdue 45% 47% 43% 49% NBC/Marist Poll (Oct. 27-30)
IA Bruce Braley (D) Joni Ernst (R) 41% 51% 14 pts. +7% Braley 51% 44% 36% 58% Des Moines Register (Oct. 28-31) 
KS Greg Orman (I) Pat Roberts (R) 44% 43% 4 pts.  +7% Orman 46% 39% 42% 47% Fox News (Oct. 28-30)
KY Alison Lundergan Grimes (D) Mitch McConnell (R) 41% 50% 3 pts.  +7% McConnell 42% 49% 41% 52% NBC/Marist Poll (Oct. 27-30)
LA Mary Landrieu (D) Bill Cassidy (R) 45% 50% 15 pts. +7% Landrieu 50% 43% 39% 58% NBC/Marist Poll (Oct. 27-30)
NC Kay Hagan (D) Thom Tillis (R) 43% 42% 8 pts. +8% Hagan 47% 39% 39% 46% Fox News (Oct. 28-30)
NH Jeanne Shaheen (D) Scott Brown (R) 49% 49% 11 pts. +11% Shaheen 54% 43% 43% 54% American Research Group (Oct. 27-29)
VA Mark Warner (D) Ed Gillespie (R) 51% 44% 3 pts.  +10% Warner 53% 43% 50% 45% Christopher Newport University (Oct. 23-29) 
The gender gap in competitive Senate races, based on the most recent polls, ranges from 2 to 20 points. In all but two contests, the women’s vote favors the Democratic candidate by anywhere between 4 and 17 percentage points. In Kentucky, the latest NBC/Marist Poll shows Republican Mitch McConnell leading Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes among both men and women voters (+7 percentage points among women), but a gender gap of 3 points is evident, with men more likely than women to support McConnell. In Georgia, the latest NBC/Marist Poll shows Republican David Perdue leading Democrat Michelle Nunn among both men and women voters (+2 percentage points among women voters), with women voters 2 percentage points less likely to support Perdue than men (2-point gender gap).  However, there is a 14- point gender gap in the WSB/Landmark Poll from Georgia over the same time period, and the women’s vote advantages Nunn by 12 percentage points. Competitive Gubernatorial Contests

State

Candidate

Overall

Gender Gap

Women's Vote

Women

Men

Date/Source

AK Sean Parnell (R) Bill Walker (I)

38% 34%

8 pts.

Equal split

33% 33%

41% 34%

NYTimes/CBS News/YouGov (Oct. 16-23)
AR Mike Ross (D) Asa Hutchinson (R)

41% 51%

10 pts.

+1% Hutchinson

45% 46%

36% 56%

Public Policy Polling Oct. 30 -Nov. 1)
AZ Fred DuVal (D) Doug Ducey (R)

40% 50%

14 pts.

+2% DuVal

45% 43%

35% 57%

NYTimes/CBS News/YouGov (Oct. 16-23)
CO John Hickenlooper (D) Bob Beauprez (R)

46% 46%

5 pts./ 9 pts.

+7% Hickenlooper

48% 41%

43% 50%

Denver Post/SurveyUSA (Oct. 27-29)
CT Dannel Malloy (D) Tom Foley (R)

44% 41%

10 pts.

+13% Malloy

49% 36%

39% 47%

Public Policy Polling Oct. 30 -Nov. 1)
FL Charlie Crist (D) Rick Scott (R)

41% 41%

6 pts./ 7pts.

+6% Crist

44% 38%

38% 45%

YouGov (Oct. 25-31)
GA Jason Carter (D) Nathan Deal (R)

46% 48%

14 pts.

+11% Carter

52% 41%

39% 55%

WSB/Landmark (Oct. 29)
  Jason Carter (D) Nathan Deal (R)

43% 48%

4 pts.

Equal split

46% 46%

40% 50%

NBC/Marist Poll (Oct. 27-30)
IL Pat Quinn (D) Bruce Rauner (R)

45% 41%

6 pts.

+16% Quinn

48% 32%

42% 51%

NYTimes/CBS News/YouGov (Oct. 16-23)
KS Paul Davis (D) Sam Brownback (R)

48% 42%

8 pts.

+15% Davis

52% 37%

44% 46%

Fox News (Oct. 28-30)
MA Martha Coakley (D) Charlie Baker (R)

42% 46%

9 pts.

+4% Coakley

45% 41%

37% 50%

Public Policy Polling Oct. 30 -Nov. 1)
MD Anthony Brown (D) Larry Hogan (R)

51% 38%

15 pts.

+18% Brown

58% 30%

43% 48%

NYTimes/CBS News/YouGov (Oct. 16-23)
ME Mike Michaud (D) Paul LePage (R) Eliot Cutler (I)

37% 35% 7%

11 pts.

+9% Michaud

42% 33% 6%

31% 38% 7%

NYTimes/CBS News/YouGov (Oct. 16-23)
MI Mark Schauer (D) Rick Snyder (R)

43% 48%

9 pts.

+4% Schauer

48% 44%

39% 53%

Mitchell Research (Oct. 27)
MN Mark Dayton (D) Jeff Johnson (R)

45% 38%

13 pts.

+19% Dayton

51% 32%

38% 45%

Star Tribune Minnesota Poll (Oct. 20-22)
NH Maggie Hassan (D) Walt Havenstein (R)

48% 36%

7 pts.

+10% Hassan

52% 42%

45% 50%

American Research Group (Oct. 27-29)
OR John Kitzhaber (D) Dennis Richardson (R)

50% 40%

11 pts.

+19% Kitzhaber

55% 36%

44% 45%

Survey USA (Oct. 23-27)
RI Gina Raimondo (D) Allan Fung (R)

38% 37%

2 pts.

+2% Raimondo

39% 37%

37% 38%

Brown University (Oct. 25-26)
WI Mary Burke (D) Scott Walker (R)

43% 45%

7 pts.

+4% Burke

45% 41%

41% 48%

YouGov (Oct. 25-31)
The gender gap in competitive gubernatorial races, based on the most recent polls, ranges from 2 to 15 points. In all but two contests, the women’s vote favors the Democratic candidate by anywhere between 2 and 19 percentage points. Even in Arkansas and Alaska, where the women’s vote is equally split or slightly favors the Republican candidate, women are still more likely than men to support the Democratic candidate. Results vary significantly in the two most recent Georgia polls, although women voters are more likely than men to support Democrat Jason Carter in both. CAWP will monitor the women’s vote and the gender gap on Election Day, using exit polls to identify and analyze gender differences in turnout and vote choice. Follow CAWP on Facebook and Twitter for the latest updates and releases on women voters in this year’s races.

#WomenRun2014: Statewide Elected Executive Office Outlook

Today we focus on the outlook for women seeking statewide elected executive offices other than governor. Candidates and Nominees Lieutenant Governor Forty-two (21D, 21R) women filed to run for lieutenant governor in 24 states in 2014.[i] The record number of women filing for lieutenant governor is 46 (25D, 19R, 1ACP, 1Ind),[ii] set in 1994. This year, 24 (15D, 9R) women won their primaries, including five (1D, 4R) incumbents running for re-election. Thirteen (10D, 3R) women are running as challengers and 6 (4D, 2R) women are running for open seats. The record for women nominees for lieutenant governor is 29 (14D, 13R, 1ACP, 1Ind), also set in 1994. LGCandsandNominees LGNomineesbyPartyThree states – Connecticut, Iowa, and Ohio – have woman-versus-woman general election contests for lieutenant governor this year. Six (5D, 1R) women of color are among the 24 female candidates for lieutenant governor in 2014. Four Latinas (3D, 1R) are nominees for lieutenant governor: Annette Tadeo (D-FL); Evelyn Sanguinetti (R-IL); Lucy Flores (D-NV); and Leticia Van de Putte (D-TX).  One Black woman, Connie Stokes, is the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor in Georgia. New Mexico’s Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor, Debra Haaland, is Native American. Three (2D, 1R) other women of color ran for lieutenant governor this cycle but lost their primaries. Additional Statewide Elected Executive Offices 101 (55D, 46R) women filed to run for statewide elected executive offices other than governor and lieutenant governor in 2014. Seventy-one (46D, 25R) women won their primaries, including 17 (8D, 9R) incumbents running for re-election. Twenty-one (19D, 2R) women are running as challengers and 33 (19D, 14R) women are running for open seats. Twenty (14D, 6R) women are running for secretary of state, 12 (8D, 4R) for attorney general, 11 (6D, 5R) for state auditor, 10 (9D, 1R) for state treasurer, and 7 (2D, 5R) for their states’ top education posts. SEEONomineesbyOfficeThere are nine woman-versus-woman general election contests for statewide elective executive offices this year, including four contests for secretary of state (IN, NM, NV, and SD), two contests for state auditor (AR and MA), two contests for state comptroller/controller (IL and CA), and Idaho’s race for superintendent of public instruction. Based on preliminary counts, at least 24 of the 101 women who filed for statewide elected executive posts are women of color, including at least 14 women of color who won nominations . Ten (10D) Black women, two (1D, 1R) Latinas, one (1D) Asian American woman, and one (1D) multi-racial woman are nominees.[iii] Women in Statewide Elected Executive Office 2015 Lieutenant Governors Eleven (5D, 6R) women currently serve as lieutenant governors. Three (3D) incumbents are not running again in 2014; Sheila Simon (D-IL) and Yvonne Solon (DFL-MN) chose not to seek re-election and Elizabeth Roberts (D-RI) is term-limited. Two (2R) incumbent women lieutenant governors are not up for re-election this year: Sue Ellspermann (R-IN) and Kim Guadagno (R-NJ). Cook Political Report ratings are available for races including 19 of the 24 female lieutenant governor nominees this year because they are elected on tickets with the gubernatorial nominees. Among those 19 contenders, three (1D, 2R) are in races deemed solid or likely to favor candidates of their party and six (6D) are in races deemed solid or likely to favor candidates of the opposing party. Eight female nominees (3D, 5R) are in races deemed toss-ups by Cook, and the remaining two (2D) lieutenant governor nominees are in races leaning in their favor (1D) or against them (1D). LGRatingsFive (3D, 2R) of the women nominees for lieutenant governor are running in states where the governor and lieutenant governor are elected separately. In those races, predictions of electoral success are harder to make. These races include three (3D) of the six women of color nominees for lieutenant governor this year: Connie Stokes (D-GA), Lucy Flores (D-NV), and Leticia Van de Putte (D-TX). Annette Tadeo (D-FL) and Evelyn Sanguinetti (R-IL), both sharing tickets with their gubernatorial nominees, are in races deemed as toss-ups by Cook, and Debra Haaland (D-NM) faces an uphill climb with Gary King as Democratic challengers to the Republican incumbents. Since 1998, the largest number of women to serve simultaneously as lieutenant governors has been 19. The maximum number of female winners this year would be 24 if women won all toss-up and long-shot races. Due to the competitiveness of these races, it remains unclear whether we will exceed even the number of women lieutenant governors currently serving (11), let alone the most recent high (19). LGs20042014Additional Statewide Elected Executive Offices Fifty-six (29D, 27R) women currently serve in statewide elected executive offices other than governor or lieutenant governor. Twenty-one of those women are not up for re-election this year and will remain in office in 2015. Seventeen of those incumbents are nominees again this year. Since 1998, the greatest number of female statewide elected executive officials (not including governors and lieutenant governors) serving simultaneously was 70 in 2000. Because polling is not readily available in the 62 races with women candidates, we make no predictions of electoral outcomes in these races. SEEO20042014What to Watch on Election Day In addition to tracking the numbers of women winning statewide elected executive offices on Election Day, we will be watching these situations where women have the potential to make history:
  • Latinas are running for lieutenant governor this year in FL, IL, NV, and TX. Since no Latina has ever served as lieutenant governor in any state, a win by any of the four would make history.  To date, only 9 Latinas have ever held statewide elected executive offices.
  • Five Black women, all Democrats, are running for statewide elected executive offices in Georgia, each with the potential to make history as the first Black woman to hold a statewide elected executive post in that state.[iv] To date, only 10 Black women have ever held statewide elected executive offices in any state.
  • If elected in New Mexico, lieutenant governor candidate Debra Haaland (D) would be the first Native American woman elected lieutenant governor and the second Native American woman elected to a statewide elected executive office nationwide.
  • If elected in Massachusetts, Maura Healey (D) would be the first openly LGBT attorney general in the nation.
  • These statewide elected executive office candidates would be the first women in their states to hold the positions they are seeking:
    • Liz Johnson (D), GA insurance commissioner
    • Robbin Shipp (D), GA labor commissioner
    • Valerie Wilson (D), GA state school superintendent
    • Janet Stewart (D), NE attorney general
    • Holli High Woodings (D), ID secretary of state
    • Ginny Deerin (D), SC secretary of state


[i] Seven states, including six with gubernatorial elections this year, do not have lieutenant governors.
[ii] ACP is A Connecticut Party, a third party in that state that is included here because there was a governor from that party at the time.
[iii] Kamala Harris (D-CA) identifies as Black and Asian Pacific Islander. CAWP attempts to verify all candidates’ race or ethnicity, but is limited by whether or not candidates return our request for identification and whether or not public information about the candidate’s identity is available.
[iv] Doreen Carter (secretary of state), Liz Johnson (insurance commissioner), Robbin Shipp (labor commissioner), Connie Stokes (lieutenant governor), Valerie Wilson (state school superintendent)  

#WomenRun2014: Senate Outlook

Today we are focusing on the outlook for women running in U.S. Senate races this year. Neither Senate nor House races feature record numbers of women candidates or nominees this cycle, but we may see a net increase in the number of women serving in the U.S. Senate in January 2015. Much depends on how some of the most competitive Senate races of this cycle break next Tuesday. Candidates and Nominees SenateCandidates Thirty-one (15D, 16R) women filed to run for the U.S. Senate in 2014. The record number of  women filing for the Senate is 36, set in 2010 (19D, 17R) and reached again in 2012 (20D, 16R). This year, 14 (9D, 5R) women have won their primaries, and incumbent Senator Mary Landrieu (D) will be on the November 4th ballot in Louisiana’s same-day primary. The record for women Senate nominees was set in 2012, with 18 women (12D, 6R) making it through their party primaries. There are two woman–versus-woman Senate races this year: in Maine (Susan Collins [R] v. Shenna Bellows [D]) and West Virginia (Shelley Moore Capito [R] v. Natalie Tennant [D]). SenateNomineesWinnersIt’s important to look at the types of contests in which women are running to determine their likelihood of winning. In 2014, 7 (4D, 3R) women are nominees for open U.S. Senate seats, compared to the 8 (4D, 4R) women running for open seats in 2012. As the charts below show, women have fallen short of making history as candidates, nominees, or open seat nominees in either major political party this year. This is the first election since 1992 in which more Republican women than Democratic women filed for U.S. Senate seats, but more Democratic women made it through their primaries to become Senate nominees. SenateOpenSeatNomineesSenateCandidatesbyParty SenateNomineesbyPartyWomen in the 114th Congress Twenty (16D, 4R) women currently serve in the U.S. Senate. There are no incumbent women senators stepping down this year, and four (3D, 1R) incumbent women are up for re-election. Sixteen (13D, 3R) incumbent women senators are holdovers who will  remain in office through the 114th Congress. Based on the most recent ratings, two more women are very likely to win their Senate races next Tuesday: incumbent Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) and Representative Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), who is running for an open seat against another female candidate, Secretary of State Natalie Tennant (D-WV). Six (5D, 1R) more women candidates for the U.S. Senate are in contests rated as toss-ups by the Cook Political Report, including incumbents Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Kay Hagen (D-NC), and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH). Two women, Michelle Nunn (D-GA) and Joni Ernst (R-IA), are running competitively for open seats, and Alison Lundergan Grimes (D-KY) is challenging incumbent Mitch McConnell in Kentucky’s contentious Senate contest. Thus women are major party nominees in many of the races that will determine the partisan balance of power in the U.S. Senate, including six of the ten toss-up contests identified by Cook. SenateRatingsOnly two women of color, Connie Johnson (D-OK) and Joyce Dickerson (D-SC), are major party Senate nominees this year, and both are unlikely to win their races, leaving Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI) as the only woman of color in the U.S. Senate in the 114th Congress. In 2012, a record 5 (4D, 1R) new women were elected to the U.S. Senate. We are unlikely to exceed that number of new women winning this year. What to Watch on Election Day In addition to tracking the numbers of women winning U.S. Senate seats on Election Day and closely monitoring the most competitive races with women running (see table above), we will be watching these races where women have the potential to make history:

  • Georgia: Democrat Michelle Nunn, if elected, will be the first woman elected to the U.S. Senate from Georgia. Rebecca Latimer Felton was appointed to the U.S. Senate from Georgia in 1922, but only served for one day. Nunn, daughter of former Georgia Senator Sam Nunn (D), would also become the second daughter of a former U.S. Senator to serve in the upper chamber of Congress. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) was appointed to the Senate by her father, Frank Murkowski, in 2002 to fill his vacant seat. She has since been re-elected twice to her Senate seat.
  • Iowa: Republican Joni Ernst, if elected, will be the first woman ever elected to the U.S. Senate from Iowa. Iowa is one of four states (DE, IA, MS, VT) that has never sent a woman to Congress. Ernst would also be the first female military veteran to serve in the U.S. Senate.
  • Kentucky: Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes, if elected, will be the first woman elected to the U.S. Senate from Kentucky, as well as the first Democratic woman elected to the U.S. Congress from that state. Grimes would also become the youngest woman to ever serve in the U.S. Senate, elected at 35 and turning 36 before January 2015. Former Senator Blanche Lambert Lincoln (D-AR), the youngest woman to serve in the U.S. Senate to date, was elected and sworn in at age 38.
  • West Virginia: Republican Shelley Moore Capito is leading Democrat Natalie Tennant in a race to become the first woman Senator from West Virginia. If elected, Capito – currently a member of the U.S. House - will be the 11th woman ever to serve in both the U.S. House and Senate.

On a less positive note, no more than one incumbent woman Senator has ever lost her re-election in any previous election year. However, three female incumbents are in races considered toss-ups this year. For the latest numbers and information about women running for office in 2014, visit CAWP’s Election Watch 2014 and check out our next post on women running for governor this year. You can also follow the conversation on Facebook and Twitter by using the hashtag #WomenRun2014.

If Gloria Steinem asked you to run…

“We need more good women to run,” feminist icon Gloria Steinem tells The Good Wife’s Alicia Florrick (Julianna Marguiles) on last Sunday’s episode. Until that point, Alicia had all but closed the door on running for State’s Attorney of Illinois, despite other attempts to persuade her by political insiders and prominent women like Valerie Jarrett. It was Steinem, however, whose endorsement may have made the difference in Alicia’s decision to run (or not), and only time (and another episode) will tell if she takes on the challenge. Steinem_GoodWifeWatching a fictional female character grapple with the complexities involved in making the decision to run for office on prime time television is a new and important point of cultural progress. In this show, Alicia is a potential candidate not due to the death of a man (see Commander in Chief, Madame Secretary), but because she’s deemed best qualified and most favored to do the job (Yes, her husband is the governor - a worthy topic for another blog post).  Moreover, her aversion to putting her name forward is not simply due to familial responsibilities, though she references the time crunch she is under (to which Steinem responds: “Show me a woman who isn’t overwhelmed”). She considers the impact of her potential bid on her business, her career, her personal principles (repeatedly saying “I’m not a politician”), and her family. That calculus is much more in line with research on women’s paths to political office, especially the “relationally-embedded decision-making”that CAWP scholars Susan Carroll and Kira Sanbonmatsu have outlined in their book More Women Can Run (2013). After analyzing survey data from state legislators throughout the U.S., they explain, “Women’s decision making about officeholding is more likely to be influenced by the beliefs and reactions, both real and perceived, of other people and to involve considerations of how candidacy and officeholding would affect the lives of others with whom the potential candidate has close relationships” (45). Which brings us back to Steinem. Carroll and Sanbonmatsu also find that encouragement matters to women, and it matters more in their calculus to run than it does in men’s decision-making. Moreover, the most influential sources of recruitment for women to run are political ones like party leaders, elected or appointed officials, or potentially prominent political activists. In discussions about women’s political recruitment, someone inevitably throws out a number of times that a woman needs to be asked to run before she actually does it; seven, three, five, we’ve heard them all. However, the research doesn’t point to any magic number of asks needed to spark a woman’s political ambition. Instead, the research shows that who asks, what case they can make, and how much support they provide can go far in moving a woman like Alicia Florrick from the “sidelines” to the ballot.

Could women lead in the Northeast?

northeastYesterday’s primaries highlighted the success of women as gubernatorial nominees in three northeastern states: Massachusetts (Martha Coakley), New Hampshire (Maggie Hassan), and Rhode Island (Gina Raimondo). While Governor Hassan was elected two years ago, the potential election of Coakley and Raimondo in November would add two new women governors to a region where Hassan is currently the sole female at the helm. Both women also have the potential to make history; Gina Raimondo would be the first woman governor in Rhode Island and Martha Coakley would be the first woman elected governor in Massachusetts, where Jane Swift was elected lieutenant governor and became governor from 2001 to 2003 after the incumbent governor resigned (see CAWP's fact sheet on the history of women governors). If all three women are elected in November, women will serve as governors in one-third of northeastern states, and two-thirds of all northeastern states can say they have had women governors. Finally, based on election forecasts, it’s possible that nearly half of the women elected governor this year will be from the Northeast (see CAWP's Election Watch 2014).  These facts cut both ways; there is potential for a record number of women governors serving simultaneously from the region, but with 36 gubernatorial seats up this year and only nine women earning nominations, we’re unlikely to break any nationwide records for women serving as top state executives. Even more, three northeastern states have still never elected women governors (ME, NY, and PA). Primary results from yesterday’s contests in MA, NH, NY, and RI also yielded some strong numbers for women down ballot. In Massachusetts, this fall’s ballot will include female major party nominees for five of the state’s six statewide elected executive posts. In Rhode Island, three of five statewide elected executive elections will include female major party nominees. And while Governor Hassan holds and will run for re-election to the state’s only elected executive post, she will be joined on the ballot by women candidates for each congressional race (including a woman-versus-woman race in CD 2), with the potential to uphold New Hampshire’s history-making status as the only state with an all-female congressional delegation and woman governor. Connecticut, which held its primary last month, nominated women to run for four of six statewide elected executive posts, with two women competing against each other to be lieutenant governor. In New York, however, lieutenant governor nominee Kathy Hochul is the only woman in a general election bid for statewide elected executive office this year. Other northeastern states will be similarly low on women in statewide elected executive offices next year, with no women competing for posts in PA (where Allyson Schwartz and Kathleen McGinty were defeated in the primary race for governor) or ME (where governor is the only statewide elected post). Incumbent State Treasurer Beth Pearce will seek re-election to one of Vermont’s six statewide elected executive offices, and, with no female congressional candidates this year, that state will continue to be one of only four states that has never sent a woman to Congress. New Jersey, where a woman holds one of two statewide elected posts, is the only northeastern state not holding statewide executive elections this year. Recent analyses have questioned whether there are glass ceilings for women in the Northeast, especially in statehouses, and yesterday’s results do not provide any definitive proof that those ceilings have been or will be broken. However, they evidence some noteworthy progress and potential for making history this year, and a promise of more stories to tell after November 4th.

A Women’s Political Committee Celebrates 25 Years

The following is a guest blog is the final post in a series of three pieces written by Susan Rose. Susan Rose served for eight years on the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors and is the former executive director of the Los Angeles City Commission on the Status of Women. She is a member of the board of trustees of Antioch University Santa Barbara. In the following piece, Susan highlights the important work done by the Santa Barbara Women’s Political Committee as it celebrates its 25th anniversary. This piece spotlights the type of work that is integral to advancing women's political power and influence, the focus of part 1 and part 2 of this series. By Susan Rose The years 2012 and 2013 were times for celebrations and political victories for the feminist movement. Ms magazine celebrated its 40th year of publication and  Jan. 22, 2013 was the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court decision that established the fundamental right to abortion. On the central coast of California, the Santa Barbara Women’s Political Committee (SBWPC) celebrated its 25th anniversary and years of political victories. This PAC began in the late 1980’s, when a small group of women in Santa Barbara met for several months to discuss the lack of women in public office.  Over time, the group expanded and included a list of who’s who among female activists in the community.  (In full disclosure, the author was also a founding mother.) SBWPC asked the question, "can women have a significant impact at the local level?" Reflecting on 25 years of political activities, the answer was an unqualified yes.  Using an activist model, these feminists created a pipeline to elective office and demonstrated that change can occur on the local level. The SBWPC was born in January of 1988 with a  reception that brought out 250 women and men.  Betty Friedan was the keynote speaker. They quickly built a membership base that today includes both women and men.The time was right to organize! From the beginning, the SBWPC defined itself as a feminist organization.  Its mission states: “The Santa Barbara Women’s Political Committee is dedicated to furthering gender equality and other feminist values through political and social action, and educational activities.  As a political action committee, we endorse the candidacies of women and men who actively support our goals and promote a feminist agenda.” During these last 25 years, the SBWPC has pursued the goal of gender equality and social change by electing women to public office. In 1988, the SBWPC endorsed the candidacies of  Dianne Owens and Gloria Ochoa, the first women to serve on the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors.  The smell of victory was sweet and led to more women entering the political realm to run for office. Since SBWPC’s founding, women have comprised as much as 80% of the County Board of Supervisors, served as mayors and District Attorney, and held seats in both houses of the state legislature. They also hold many positions on school boards and local commissions.  Not to mention, since 1999 Santa Barbara County has been represented by a woman in Congress. During its 25 years, the SBWPC has endorsed and contributed financial support to 95 candidates.  A total of fifty-six of those were women (59%).  Only four of the women lost. All candidates supported the feminist agenda. The SBWPC’s success is best demonstrated by its impact on public policy. Legislation and programs introduced by women elected to office in Santa Barbara has covered a broad range of issues including breast cancer, children, domestic violence, education, the environment, healthcare, housing, homelessness, human services, living wage, rape kits and reproductive rights. In its early days, the SBWPC board of directors created a set of tools that enabled them to elect feminist women to office.  These tools included: position papers, recruitment strategies, campaign skills workshops, candidate assessment teams, endorsements, state and federal PAC money, and media support. The position papers formed the basis for the organization’s feminist agenda and the criteria by which candidates received endorsements.  The  issues covered in the papers range from childcare to the ERA to immigration and reproductive rights.These tools are still in place today and guide the board in their process of endorsing candidates. Many of the first candidates to be endorsed by the PAC were founding board members, creating an early pipeline to elected office. In the current political climate, there is not only unfinished business for the feminist agenda but an imperative need to secure the gains that have been made.  To do that, more women must run for national office starting with local and statewide candidacies. Today, the SBWPC has a standing pipeline committee that focuses on recruiting women for future elections.  This committee is key to the continuing success of the organization.  Due to term limits in many local and state offices, more women need to be ready to run when vacancies occur.  As part of their function, this committee actively reaches out to prospective candidates. While other feminist organizations have declined or disbanded, the SBWPC has been able to sustain itself over 25 years because of a diverse board of women and a membership committed to addressing issues that are current and compelling. With the help of the 24 women on the board of directors, the Santa Barbara Women’s Political Committee has created a culture where women in public office are the norm not the exception. These women have achieved political and electoral success by grass roots organizing, marching, mentoring, advocating and campaigning both through community activism and social media.  They are dedicated and committed to making a difference in the lives of women. The organizational model developed by the SBWPC has been tried and tested locally over the years and can be replicated in other communities. “All politics are local” said former speaker of the House of Representatives Tip O’Neill.  He was right.

Preparing Women to Run and Win Elected Office

The following is a guest blog re-posted from Women's eNews as the second in a series of three pieces written by Susan Rose. Susan Rose served for eight years on the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors and is the former executive director of the Los Angeles City Commission on the Status of Women. She is a member of the board of trustees of Antioch University Santa Barbara. In the following piece, Susan discusses  efforts to encourage and support women's candidacies nationwide. The first piece in the series chronicled the difference women have made in California. The final piece, which will be posted next week, will highlight the role that women's PACs can play in these efforts. By Susan Rose On the sidelines of all the primary campaigns going on right now we also have a less-visible but important nationwide effort focused on gender equality in political office. It is aimed at women who have not considered running for political office as well as those who have been thinking about it and need encouragement to declare. Recruitment is the key to achieving this goal. "If women run, women win," says Debbie Walsh, director of the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University in New Jersey. Emerge America is the fastest-growing national political organization recruiting women to run for office. Founded in 2005, it is currently working in 14 states to recruit and train Democratic women to run for office. (Emerge California was founded earlier in 2002.) Each December, Emerge begins an intensive seven-month, 70-hour training model that to date has trained 1,275 women. Since 2002, 47 percent of its graduates have run for office or been appointed to a board or commission. This year, it has 179 women running for office. Six are running for Congress in the states of California, Kentucky, Maine, Nevada and Wisconsin. Emerge success stories include Oregon's Val Hoyle, who won a seat in the state legislature in 2009 and is now the Oregon house majority leader, and Wisconsin's JoCasta Zamarripa, who became the first Latina elected to the Wisconsin legislature in 2010 and is now the Democratic caucus vice-chair. In 2014 women have continued to lose ground in elected office across the country, finds a data analysis by the Center for American Women and Politics. The number of women running has decreased and too few are waiting in the pipeline to run when openings occur. In their 2005 book "It Takes a Candidate," Jennifer Lawless and Richard Fox explain why women don't run for office as frequently as men. Their research shows that:
  • Women put families and careers first, entering politics would be a "third job;"
  • Women believe they are not qualified;
  • Women are not recruited to be candidates by their political parties.
Lawless and Fox argue that the gender gap in political ambition is derived from "traditional gender socialization." The proliferation and evolution of women's political organizations have the potential to turn this around.

New and Old Groups

Traditional women's groups have stepped up their game and new ones are appearing on the political horizon. These organizations have created a national political infrastructure to recruit, support and train women to run for office. The American Association of University Women, founded in 1881, has a program Elect Her that trains college women to run for student government on campuses with the goal of developing a future interest in political office. This academic year 50 campuses will host Elect Her trainings. The National Organization for Women, founded in 1966, established a political action committee in 1977 to endorse feminist candidates in federal elections. With hundreds of state and local chapters throughout the United States, NOW's PAC currently supports feminist candidates at all political levels. The NOW Foundation, a nonprofit arm of the national organization, has a voter mobilization effort to "raise awareness of the importance of women's participation in the political process." The Center for American Women and Politics, founded in 1971 and the preeminent academic institution conducting research on issues affecting women running for and holding office, has a variety of booster initiatives. New Leadership, a six-day summer program, "educates college women about the political process and teaches them to become effective leaders." Ready to Run is a nonpartisan program that encourages women to run for office, apply for appointments and work on campaigns. Currently, Ready to Run has programs in 14 states. It has been particularly successful in training and electing women of color. As of 2012, the state legislature of New Jersey has 15 women of color, five of whom participated in the Ready to Run training.

Oldest Bipartisan Organization

The National Women's Political Caucus, founded in 1971, is the oldest bipartisan national organization dedicated to increasing women's involvement in political and public life. They recruit and train pro-choice candidates for all levels of government. This includes endorsements, financing and training. The Women's Campaign Fund, founded in 1974, is bipartisan and dedicated to increasing women in public office who support reproductive rights. Through their PAC and She Should Run programs, the fund provides early financial support to endorsed candidates from school boards to Congress and conducts research to help women gain office. Through its Game Changers program it is announcing new batches of candidates for this year on a rolling basis, with six new names released earlier this week. Emily's List (Early Money is Like Yeast) supports pro-choice Democratic female congressional candidates with early funding and training. Since its founding in 1985, the group has raised over $385 million. In the 2011-2012 election cycle, its donors contributed an historic $52 million for candidates. Emily's List has helped elect 10 female governors, 102 to the House of Representatives (25 from California) and 19 women to the U.S. Senate. In the Senate, the roster of endorsed women includes such well-known names as Barbara Boxer, Carol Moseley Braun, Hillary Clinton, Dianne Feinstein, Barbara Mikulski, Patty Murray and Elizabeth Warren. In 2013, Emily's List began placing more staff representatives in local communities to scout for prospective candidates. Emily's List Southern California Regional Director Heidi Lee points out that "by collaborating with local organizations we foster a greater environment for women to run." The Feminist Majority Foundation, founded in 1987, engages in policy development, educational conferences and grass roots organizing. It is affiliated with hundreds of student groups nationwide and has created feminist chapters on college campuses "to foster activism on campuses and to provide tools for leadership development." The Republican Majority for Choice, previously known as the Republican Pro-Choice Coalition, joined with Wish List (Women in the Senate and House) in 2010 to recruit, train and support Republican pro-choice female candidates at all levels of government. The group is considered the Republican version of Emily's List.

California Groups

Some efforts in my home state, California, must also get special mention. Close the gap Ca was established in 2013 and aims to recruit women for the California state legislature in 2014 and 2016. It identifies candidates and then recruits and connects them to resources needed to run and win elections. By filing time in California (Feb. 12), 76 women had submitted their papers. This stops the "slide" that began in 2012, but is a long way from the high of 97 women who ran in 2010. Hispanas Organized for Political Equality, HOPE, founded in 1989, works to advance Latinas through education, advocacy and youth leadership training. Through its PAC, the group endorses and contributes to Latina candidates at all levels who "work toward creating public policies that empower Latinas, their families and their communities." California Women Lead was founded 40 years ago as an association for elected and appointed women. It provides leadership and campaign trainings throughout California with a focus on women interested in state and local boards and commissions. "Appointments are an opportunity for women who are trying to balance work and family and to build a resume while preparing to run," says the group's executive director, Rachel Michelin. To achieve gender equality in public office, we need to work harder to recruit more women to run now and to build a pipeline of women who will be future candidates. Gloria Steinem said it best in the spring edition of Ms. Magazine: "People often ask me if I am passing the torch. I explain that I am keeping my torch, and I'm using it to light the torches of others. Because only if each of us has a torch will there be enough light." For more examples of organizations working to support and train women candidates, see CAWP's Political Resource Map.

Women Make a Difference for Women

The following is a guest blog re-posted from Women's eNews as the first in a series of three pieces written by Susan Rose. Susan Rose served for eight years on the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors and is the former executive director of the Los Angeles City Commission on the Status of Women. She is a member of the board of trustees of Antioch University Santa Barbara. In the following piece, Susan discusses the difference women have made in elected office in her home state of California. The next two pieces, which will be posted over the next two weeks, will focus on efforts to encourage and support women's candidacies and the role that women's PACs can play in these efforts. By Susan Rose California boasts two female senators. We are the only state to advance women's reproductive rights in the last few years. The state is rapidly moving forward on the Affordable Health Care Act and there has been paid family leave in California since 2002, though it is underused. But don't be misled. Even here we have a political gender gap that is actually widening, not closing. The California state legislature has 120 members with 32 seats held by women, around 27 percent, down from 30 percent a decade ago. Close the Gap CA was founded to counter these losses and is conducting a four-city "Stop the Slide" tour during March to coincide with Women's History Month. Women's rights activists and elected officials will be speaking about the "slide" in female representation and encourage women to run for office. Close the Gap will also be recruiting progressive women to run in 2014 and 2016. Nine women will be termed out of the state legislature in 2014 and fewer women are running for office than in 2010, says Betsy Cotton, director of the initiative. Does it really matter if women are in public office in equal numbers to men? Yes it does, just check the research that has been piling on for more than 20 years. In 1991, The Center for Women and American Politics published a series of findings about the impact of women on state legislatures. Women were more likely than men to support feminist and liberal policy positions such as passage of the ERA and support for abortion rights. It found that women were more likely than men to have worked on "women's right legislation," including issues affecting children, families and health care. Michele Swers followed in 2002 with her book on women in Congress, "The Difference Women Make: The Policy Impact of Women in Congress." She studied the legislative process from bill initiation to the concluding vote and affirmed that women are more likely to "champion women's issues."

Benefiting All Constituents

Having more women in office benefits all constituents, U.C. Berkeley and University of Chicago researchers found in their 2011 study "The Jackie and Jill Robinson Effect." Women bring 9 percent more spending to their districts from federal programs, they found. This translates to about $49 million more income for each district represented by a woman. In their 2005 book, "It Still Takes a Candidate," Jennifer Lawless and Richard Fox argue that women have different political agendas from those of men. Women emphasize education, the environment, consumer protection, gay rights, health care and helping the poor. Men are more likely to carry bills on agriculture, business and the economy, crime, foreign policy and the military. Elected women prioritize the social infrastructure. Having served eight years as a California county supervisor, I learned daily that women consider public health to be as much a budget priority as public safety. On the local level, supporting mental health programs and social services becomes as important as fixing streets and patrol cars. Reviewing the work of women in the California State Legislature during a period from1993 to 2008 revealed that women make a difference for women. Sheila Kuehl and Hilda Solis are from Southern California. They served 14 and 10 years respectively in the state legislature. During their years in Sacramento, Kuehl and Solis carried a series of bills that focused on children, civil rights, domestic violence, education, employment, health care and reproductive rights. Congresswoman Jackie Speier comes from Northern California and served 18 years in both state houses. Her successful track record of bills passed in California includes issues affecting children, consumer services, domestic violence, education, health care and reproductive rights. Hannah-Beth Jackson represents the central coast of California. She served six years in the state Assembly and in 2012 was elected to the state Senate. Jackson's successful legislative record includes numerous bills focused on children, consumer services, domestic violence, education, the environment, health care and reproductive rights. Last year, the governor signed Jackson's legislation expanding the definition of family for California's paid Family Medical Leave Act. (California was the first state in the country to enact paid family leave.) Today, the definition of family in California for paid leave includes seriously ill grandparents, grandchildren, siblings and in-laws.

'All Is Still Not Well'

Progress for women has been made in California because of dedicated legislators such as Kuehl, Solis, Speier and Jackson. But all is still not well for women in California. A recent meeting in Sacramento sponsored by the California Center for Research on Women and Families focused on the unmet needs of women in child care, economic empowerment, health care, poverty relief and Title IX implementation. The California Center's executive director, Kate Karpilow, hopes to "push women's issues to the forefront of the legislative agenda." In the last several cycles the state has balanced its budget on the backs of women and children. Today 1-in-4 children and 1-in-3 single mothers in California live in poverty, according to the Women's Foundation of California. The most recent Shriver Report, "A Woman's Nation Pushed Back from the Brink," found that nationally 42 million American women and 28 million children are living in poverty. To rise out of poverty, women need job training and job programs; an increased minimum wage; equal pay for equal work; and family justice programs including child care, paid family leave, paid sick leave and flexible work schedules. Data from the Center for American Women in Politics show that women still have a long way to go to reach gender balance in office. In the U.S. Senate there are 20 of 100 seats held by women and in the House of Representatives, only 79 of the 535 seats are held by women. The average for both houses combined is about 19 percent. Across the United States, women hold five of the 50 governorships and about 24 percent of state legislature elected offices. This is an increase of only 2 percent in the last 10 years. If we are to succeed as a nation, there must be equal representation of women in elected office. "When women succeed, America succeeds," said President Barack Obama in his State of the Union address on Jan. 28, 2014. Taking political power to gain equality becomes an imperative for American women.

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