Women and Politics

A blog from WCF about the state of women and politics

Brunner and Hanabusa: Let the Voters Decide

Strange winds are blowing from Washington to Ohio to Hawaii.

In the Buckeye State, polls continue to show that Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner is hot on the heels of Lt. Governor Lee Fisher in the Democratic Primary Election for U.S. Senate set for May 4th.  This is a true testament to Brunner’s grassroots support in Ohio, considering the fact that her fundraising has been put in a choke-hold by the boys at the top.

Brunner is a popular statewide elected official who is well-respected as a reformer in the daunting realm of electoral oversight, yet somehow she has only encountered resistance and neglect from the party elite.

Meanwhile in Hawaii, State Senate President Colleen Hanabusa (D) will face former Congressman Ed Case (D) and Councilman Charles Djou (R) in a winner-take-all special election for U.S. Congress on May 22nd. With two viable Democrats running in a tight race, the national Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) is worried that this heavily-Democratic district might slip away from them.

Although the DCCC generally stays out of primary races, Chairman Chris Van Hollen has indicated that they will not rule out an endorsement, and several sources have indicated that his organization is leaning toward Case.

This is perplexing to say the least. Hanabusa already has the endorsements of both Hawaii Senators and most major Hawaii labor groups, and has handily out-raised Case throughout the race. Hanabusa has served in the Hawaii State Senate for twelve years—she was the first woman to head either legislative house in Hawaii and is the first Asian-American women to lead a state legislative body.

In short, she is a viable and eminently qualified candidate with considerable local support. The only advantage Case seems to have is that he entered Congress in 2003 as part of the same cohort as some DCCC leadership—though we trust that such relationships would not effect the Committee’s decisions.

Both Brunner and Hanabusa are qualified, well-liked candidates who hold statewide leadership positions. The voters have already signaled their support in the polls – so why are the boys at the top holding back? Why do national committees continue to tilt the playing field in favor of male candidates, without clear justification?

And this certainly isn’t just a Democratic issue: Let us not forget how the National Republican Congressional Committee abandoned Dede Scozzafava in NY-23 last October, which cost them the race.

This trend of blocking and abandoning female candidates is greatly disturbing, to say the least. We must stand up and tell the old boys’ club: Let voters decide. The games stop now.

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