Archive for January, 2012

Female candidates for Congress on upward trend

Posted in In the News, Women in PA on January 30th, 2012 by admin – Be the first to comment

WASHINGTON – The roster of congressional candidates for this year’s elections is taking shape and one trend is emerging: 2012 could be another “Year of the Woman” in American politics.


Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has tried to encourage more women to run for congressional office.

By J. Scott Applewhite, AP
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has tried to encourage more women to run for congressional office.


The moniker was famously applied in 1992 when four women were elected to the Senate, a high watermark for the chamber that has never been surpassed.

This year, however, a notable number of candidates are running in potentially competitive races in both the House of Representatives and Senate that could send a wave of female lawmakers to Washington in November. If so, it would reverse the 2010 election trend that saw the first dip in female representation in the House since 1978 and only sent one woman, New Hampshire Republican Kelly Ayotte, to the Senate.

In the 2012 Senate lineup, there are 10 female candidates — four Republicans and six Democrats — seeking office. Of the six states with female Democratic candidates — Connecticut, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Nevada, North Dakota and Wisconsin — none has ever elected a woman to the Senate.

Republican women are running in Connecticut, Hawaii, Missouri and New Mexico.

“Both parties have made a concerted effort to attract more women candidates,” said Jessica Taylor, a senior analyst for the non-partisan Rothenberg Political Report. Taylor said campaign operations are cognizant of seeking out diverse candidates and female candidates can be particularly appealing because independent female voters are often a decisive voting bloc in elections.

Leading female lawmakers — including Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., who runs the Senate Democrats‘ campaign operation — have made concerted efforts to recruit more women to run.

The Democratic congressional campaign operation is fielding candidates in 76 House races they hope to make competitive, and about half of those districts have female candidates.

“Many of us view gender parity as a goal for Congress,” said Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo., who has helped recruit candidates this year.

Democratic candidates include Val Demings, an African-American woman who was Orlando’s first female police chief; Iraq War veteran Tammy Duckworth in Illinois; and Iowan Christie Vilsack, the wife of former governor and current Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

Rep. Allyson Schwartz, D-Pa., who chairs Democrats’ recruitment, said women can be very effective messengers when so many Americans are worried about kitchen-table issues affecting family finances and when voters increasingly say they want lawmakers to compromise and get things done.

“They (women) come as problem solvers,” Schwartz said.

Republicans agree, but have had less success in recruiting women to run for the GOP. House Republicans are fielding seven female candidates in potentially competitive races in California, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky and Missouri.

“Bottom line is these women will make great representatives,” says Andrea Bozek, a spokeswoman for the House Republican campaign operation. “Not only do they come from different backgrounds and professions, in many households, they control the family budget.”

Among female GOP candidates are former representative Heather Wilson, a Senate candidate in New Mexico, and Ann Wagner, a former Missouri Republican Party chairwoman and a former ambassador to Luxembourg, who is seeking a House seat.




Article by Susan Davis, USA Today

Click here to open article on


Conference Readies Women to Run for Political Office

Posted in In the News, Women in PA on January 23rd, 2012 by admin – Be the first to comment
By Deanna Garcia
(Deanna Garcia/Essential Public Radio)
Executive Speech and Presentation Coach Deb Sofield talked about the art of public speaking.
Women outnumber men in the U.S. according to the U.S. Census Bureau, but their numbers are few when it comes to elected office be it on the local, state or federal level. A national movement is trying to change that by teaching women about the political process. One such event was held in Pittsburgh over the weekend.

Pennsylvania Near the Bottom

Pennsylvania ranks 42 in the nation when it comes to women holding elected office. Out of 50 state senators, 11 are women, and out of 203 representatives, 33 are women. The Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics at Chatham University aims to increase the female presence in politics and public policy through events such as Saturday’s Ready to Run Conference.

“We need to run campaigns that are very viable, very professional, that are very excellent campaigns that people can remember whether we win or lose,” said Valerie McDonald Roberts, Manager for the Allegheny County Department of Real Estate. She also held the office when it was an elected position.

Roberts was on a panel at the event, which drew about 75 women from Allegheny County and surrounding areas. She said there are several reasons there aren’t more women in politics.

“We have been marginalized for so many years. We are dealing with a deficit, a structural deficit that has been rolling over year after year after year with women and minorities not being at the seat of the table,” Roberts said.

That was the prevailing feeling in the room — that breaking into the so-called “Good Old Boys” system is extremely hard to do, but not impossible if women can learn to be heard and learn to be confident.

Women attending the Ready to Run conference
(Deanna Garcia/Essential Public Radio)
Saturday’s Ready to Run conference at Chatham University was one of several events around the county intended to encourage more women to run for public office.

“To be aggressive, to be focused, to not only want a seat at the table, but to take it. It is not going to be given to you, you need to know how to take it just like men have for hundreds and hundreds of years,” said Roberts.

But, it seems that every campaign season there’s an aggressive woman who ends up getting labeled negatively as a ball-buster, witch, or something that rhymes with ‘witch,’ but Roberts said that’s just become a reality in politics.

“We have to understand that there is a double standard, we are not going to defeat that double standard, but we need to get around that double standard,” she said.

Money Talks

Panelist Deb Sofield is an executive speech and presentation coach. She said in the political arena, reality is harsh. When a male candidate cries, people see him as sensitive; when a woman cries, she’s labeled as overly emotional or crazy. While there was a lot of talk about institutional challenges, and that double standard, the main obstacle facing women who want to run for office is money.

“It’s an expensive game. You’ve gotta build your network then make your net work. What you have to do is find some way for people to financially put you where you need to be,” said Sofield.

An afternoon session was focused solely on the financial aspect of running for office. Only a handful of the women in attendance are currently thinking of running for office soon, and they all expressed discomfort with asking for money. That is true of Stephanie Gallagher. She’s currently a supervisor of Buffalo Township, Washington County, but is considering a run for state office. She says she knows she has to overcome her reluctance to ask for money.

“It’s a very humbling experience. You don’t really want to ask people. You’re hoping they just know you need it and that’s not always the case. The key is to ask,” she said.

Knowing the Game

Panelists touched on a wide variety of topics, including body language, speech patterns, ways to stand, and hand shaking. Organizers wouldn’t allow reporting of the actual panel and discussions in an effort to allow the speakers and participants to feel comfortable being as open and honest as possible.

Overall, Gallagher said the experience was an empowering one. “You just have to stand your ground and know your beliefs and just do what you feel is the right thing to do,” she said. “I’m ready to stand a bigger ground and push more positive action to another level.”

The overriding message of the day to the women was to know what they’re talking about, and that if women want to be taken seriously, they have to do their homework before stepping into the public eye.

“Don’t go out there because someone says you should run for office and you think it’s a good idea. You don’t want to embarrass yourself. If you don’t do due diligence and don’t do an assessment to see if everything is feasible, you don’t want to embarrass yourself, you don’t want to get out there and cause embarrassment for other women,” said Valerie McDonald Roberts.

Ready to Run events will be held in other U.S. cities in the next few months, mostly with the goal of jump starting some campaigns for the 2012 election cycle and beyond.

How Women Vote

Posted in In the News on January 10th, 2012 by admin – Be the first to comment

“White males have long been a bellwether when it comes to the perception of how America votes, but toss in the simple twist of gender and the situation becomes much more complicated… and nuanced.

Research into the voting habits of women has provided some data that flies in the face of assumptions about voting. In fact, the lauded white male proves to be a far more fickle creature than expected once in the voting booth. Some of the research pins the shift on Ronald Reagan, whose hawkish stance and fiscal policies resonated with much of the white guy demographic, causing them to a shift to the political right while women stayed largely the same. Research has also indicated that when women shift their positions to one party or the other, men tend to follow suit, but much more dramatically. So who’s moody now?”

Why do women vote differently than men?

Posted in In the News on January 5th, 2012 by admin – Be the first to comment

This election cycle, as with just about every other, there is considerable handwringing about where the women voters will land. Which candidate will alienate women and which one will say just the right things? (And what do women want to hear, anyway?) Among the GOP candidates, Newt Gingrich’s woman problem has been especially chewed over; there’s the matter of his cheating and his three marriages, not to mention the condescending way he’s spoken of Michele Bachmann. Perhaps in desperation to connect with that mysterious species of voter, the Woman, the candidate’s efforts recently yielded the headline: “Gingrich Sheds Tears in Meeting with Iowa Mothers.”

But why do women vote differently than men? For decades women have been more closely aligned with the Democratic Party and men more likely to identify as Republicans. And even among a single-party electorate, there is variation between the sexes.

State program aiming to get women in office

Posted in In the News, Women in PA on January 3rd, 2012 by admin – 1 Comment

Chelsa Wagner knows that being a woman in a field where men “tend to groom replacements for themselves” can present challenges.

One of Pittsburgh’s first women to be elected to a full term in the state House, Wagner officially leaves behind that job in Harrisburg when she is inaugurated today as Allegheny County’s first female controller.

“You can’t change the nature of the game,” said Wagner, a Beechview Democrat. “You have to figure out how to run within it.”