Some of the most watched, most competitive primary races were held last week, and many of them involved female candidates. Now it’s time to see how it all shook out for women.
Thanks to the Alabama primary results, the state will be electing its first Congresswoman in November. Even better, it will be someone who believes in reproductive rights. From Women in Politics:
After last night’s Democratic primary, Alabama is ready to make history.
Two women, Terri Sewell and Sheila Smoot, secured over 70% of the vote in Alabama’s 7th Congressional District, bringing them to a runoff election on July 13.
I’m excited to say that Terri Sewell was the top vote-getter, garnering 37 percent of the vote.
Alabama voters now have the rare chance to choose between two African-American women who support reproductive rights.
This historic race may not get much attention from the national media, but women across the country need to pay attention to the numerous women out there fighting to make a difference.
And that wasn’t the only groundbreaking victory for women. Women’s Campaign Forum also has a roundup of other new candidates who made it through the challenge.
In California, intelligent and powerful women of color are challenging every boundary and reaching new levels of leadership. Speaker Karen Bass was the first African-American woman to be elected Speaker of a State Assembly, and is an excellent candidate to represent California’s 33rd district in the U.S. Congress. She, in turn, has endorsed Holly Mitchell to continue minority women’s representation in the State Assembly.
In 2003, Kamala Harris became the first African-American and South Asian woman to serve as San Francisco’s Attorney General, and she would be California’s first woman and first minority to be elected as Attorney General. While Harris still faces a tough race in November, these remarkable women make it clear that obstacles such as race and gender imbalance can be challenged, and overcome, by the right candidates.
There are many paths for women to effect change in this country. These women have worked in the private sector, at non-profits, and in various public positions, and all of them have consistently striven to promote progressive ideals and paved the way for more women in leadership positions.
Angie Buhl and Roxanne Conlin are excellent role models for how women can help promote women’s rights—Buhl’s longtime work as a proponent of women’s reproductive health choices will now be reflected in her work in the South Dakota Senate.
Conlin, as Iowa’s Assistant Attorney General, helped women by writing Iowa’s first rape victim protection law, and defended pregnant women’s rights in the state’s Supreme Court. After her victory last night, it is apparent to me that she will continue to shatter stereotypes and defend the values important to Iowans and women across the country.
The mainstream media, of course, was focused on much higher profile races, especially California and Nevada. And those races were also the focus of Republican women action groups like Susan B. Anthony List. SBA List, which spoke in May about its full throated (and fully financed) backing of Sue Lowden in Nevado, has quietly moved to endorse Tea Party Candidate Sharon Angle after her surprise victory in the primary, making the case that one conservative candidate is the same as another to the group as long as she’s female and anti-choice. And they seem to have replaced Lowden with Carly Fiorina as the new face of their movement, despite her support for things like birth control, an anathema to the strictest in the anti-choice movement. The group appears to be much more concerned with defeating certain Democratic politicians than upholding their own candidate criteria.
But regardless, it was definitely a strong showing for Republican female candidates. Yet what does it mean overall for women? As Lauren at Women in Politics writes:
Though some of these women don’t share WCF’s views on reproductive health choices, I am encouraged. This sudden deluge of victories has forced the country to stand up and take notice of women’s political power.
That said, I want to ask these candidates one question: If elected, what will you do to advance women’s rights?
Many of you prevailed in spite of the Political Establishment. Now, it is my great hope that you will use your hard-earned collective power to help us break up the Good Ol’ Boys’ Club and change the many existing harmful views against women.
It is my firm belief that we need more women in government—but it’s essential that they use their leadership to protect and empower all women in America.
That means working to turn the tide of the Establishment, which continually looks to restrict women’s freedoms across the board.
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