The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Karen Heller is upset:
In Pennsylvania, female politicians face different rules
Karen Heller, Philadelphia Inquirer Columnist | Posted: Wednesday, June 4, 2014, 1:08 AM
Pennsylvania’s primary was notable for the number of Democratic female candidates for governor and Congress, including Allyson Schwartz, Katie McGinty, Val Arkoosh, Marjorie Margolies, and Shaughnessy Naughton.
Every one of them lost. To argue that all five candidates are the same is to be reductive and wrong.
Pennsylvania has never elected a woman governor, or senator, and, come January, it will be represented by 18 men in the U.S. House. (New Jersey appears primed to elect one woman to Congress.) I don’t vote by gender – how could you in this state? – but that’s appalling and an embarrassment. If the opposite held true, men would be in revolt.
After I wrote about the primary and how poorly women candidates fared, the reaction was immediate, nasty, and personal, especially toward Schwartz.
The congresswoman, I noted, ran a poor campaign and Tom Wolf operated an excellent one, feathered by $10 million of his own funds. But the criticism toward Schwartz and other women candidates was more withering than that.
There’s more at the link.
Every one of the candidates Mrs Heller mentioned, as well as all of the male candidates who ran, did the same thing: they presented their cases to the voters, and the voters cast their ballots as they saw fit. If women’s liberation means that women have an equal opportunity to compete with men, that was certainly an example of it.
Mrs Heller’s argument is a strange one: she complains about the losses suffered by all of the female candidates, that it’s just so difficult for women to win elections in the Keystone State, but two of them, Allyson Schwartz and Marjorie Margolies, have won elections in the past, and Mrs Schwartz would probably have won re-election to Congress again this year, had she decided to do that rather than to run for Governor. It’s also true that state Attorney General Kathleen Kane won a statewide election for her office. Perhaps, just perhaps, the voters are taking their decisions based upon the quality of the candidates.1
More, Mrs Heller conceded that Mrs Schwartz ran “a poor campaign.” Women, however, Mrs Heller tells us, are held “to a higher standard,” something she finds to be unfair. Mrs Heller “(doesn’t) vote by gender,”2 she tells us, but the fact that, in the next Congress, Pennsylvania will have an exclusively male delegation is “appalling and an embarrassment,” in her words tells the reader that yes, she does judge by the sex of the candidates. Hillary Clinton, she claimed, was asked about her “likability,” yet somehow seems to have forgotten the fact that Mrs Clinton won the 2008 Pennsylvania Democratic presidential primary, beating Barack Obama by a wide margin; it seems as though Pennsylvania Democrats were willing to give their votes to a female candidate then. But this was the most amusing paragraph:
Contrary to the Northeast’s image of being progressive and egalitarian, “the good old blue states are worse for women. They have more of an all-male traditional power structure in place,” said Rebecca Traister, author of a book on the 2008 election, Big Girls Don’t Cry. Severely liberal Massachusetts never had a woman senator until Elizabeth Warren in 2012. “Western and pioneer states are the ones where women get elected,” Traister said.
Naturally, your Editor’s thoughts turn to people like Nikki Haley (SC) and Jan Brewer (AZ) and Susana Martinez (NM) and Mary Fallin (OK), all Republicans and all current, elected Governors of their states. Democrat Maggie Hassen is the elected Governor of New Hampshire, and Bev Perdue recently left office as Governor of North Carolina; she did not run for re-election amid disastrous poll numbers. It sure seems as though the voters in the “red” states are willing to cast their ballots for female candidates, when they are good ones.3
We live in a democratic representative republic and, in the end, the voters choose who will hold our many, many elective offices. Female governors, senators, representatives, state legislators, mayors, city councilwomen, “row officers” and the like are no longer a novelty, but simply part of everyday life. And elections are very egalitarian: the candidates present themselves to the voters, and the voters choose to cast their ballots for whichever candidates they prefer. That’s equality of opportunity; apparently Mrs Heller finds that not really good enough if it does not produce equality of outcome.
- I would argue, however, that Mrs Kane has been a terrible Attorney General. Not only has she been wasting time trying to find out if the Republicans went too slowly in the prosecution of Jerry Sandusky, a prosecution they did pursue and a case that they won, but Mrs Kane has also gotten herself mired in a political scandal, which we have documented here, here and here. ↩
- Very probably true in at least one regard: in a choice between a male Democrat and a female Republican, Mrs Heller would almost certainly vote for the male Democrat. ↩
- Your Editor finds it interesting that female candidates have done better in elections to executive positions; if there have been very few female senators from the northeast, a claim I find to be more the result of cherry-picking than indicative of sexism, there have been more female governors, and governors are responsible for actually getting things done in ways that legislators are not. ↩