Women and Politics

A blog from WCF about the state of women and politics

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MsRep Says: No Buerkle for WCF


First things first: WCF does not support Ann Marie Buerkle

MsRep wants to thank our supporters (especially the New Yorkers!) who reached out to clarify the mention of Ann Marie Buerkle in yesterday’s Brief. We want to make sure everyone knows that Buerkle is not a woman WCF endorses, as she does not support women’s reproductive health choices.

She was mentioned solely because she is the one woman with an outstanding race, which will affect the overall number of women in the 112th Congress. If she wins the NY-25 seat, women will hold 16.6 percent of Congressional seats.

WCF invests in women on both sides of the aisle, but only those who believe in advancing our essential and fundamental freedoms. Otherwise, women’s numbers in public office may rise, but women’s rights, freedom, and quality of life may suffer greatly as a result.

MsRep’s Continued Talk of Palin’s Pack of Petrifying Women

It’s been a very confusing election year, in so many ways. Given the wide sea of 2010 women candidates and the gaping differences in their values, MsRep has striven to both elevate our endorsed candidates and discuss the larger picture of women and politics.

Unfortunately, that picture has included a sharp rise of extreme socially conservative, anti-choice women, and they became an important part of MsRep’s analysis; pointing out their dangerous views on women’s reproductive freedom and their disconcerting thrust into the spotlight.

One key point in analyzing the state of women’s representation is to report on how many Congressional seats they hold. That said, we know that’s only one piece of the puzzle. As Lauren wrote this week,

We saw an increase in the number of anti-choice women elected this year (and lost a handful of proven advocates for reproductive health choices), and have created quite a dangerous landscape for women’s freedom, health, and quality of life.”

Ann Marie Buerkle is one of those women.

WCF Heartbroken after Midterm Elections

As MsRep said yesterday, this year’s midterms were especially difficult for WCF, as we sent our entire staff onto the campaign trail with a number of our extraordinary women who support women’s reproductive health choices. Unfortunately, we saw many more losses than wins, especially with our incumbent Congressional candidates—thus creating the fragile state of women’s freedom and privacy.

We take the recent backslide in women and advocates for reproductive health very seriously. To ensure we can reverse this damage in 2012, the fight starts now.

Will you help WCF get a jump-start on propelling women forward in 2011 and beyond?

Your super-early investment in women candidates (and potential candidates) can have the most impact on their success.

Want to read more about women, WCF, and choices?

These Huffington Post blogs from our President/CEO Sam Bennett address these issues:

June 8 Victories for Female Candidates: What Will They Do for Women?

Sarah Palin’s brand of “feminism” hurts women and further divides country

Who Needs More Women in Government? Everyone.

The Oxymoron of the Sarah Palin “Conservative Feminism” Brand

Follow @WCFonline on Twitter.

Also, please send any tips or news you hear about to .

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MsRepresentation Daily Brief: November 5, 2010


Feeling Down…Even, MsRepresented, after Election Day?

Don’t fret - MsRep is still here for you. Due to popular demand and troubling election results, MsRep will continue to keep you updated on the breaking and most critical women and politics news through the end of the year. She may not give you a Daily Brief, but it will certainly be a weekly dose of non-partisan, women-filled political news.

Click here to stay up to speed on women and politics news from MsRep.

One must be informed to fight the abysmal state of women’s political representation.

Gutty Murray Toughs Out Narrow Win

MsRep has to say it: Patty Murray is one tough politician. In a difficult year for Democrats and incumbents, she held off Dino Rossi–albeit in a very close race–to win her fourth term in the Senate. (Rossi conceded last night.)

Only four other women have achieved this feat and thus served as long or longer in the Senate: Maine’s Margaret Chase Smith; Maryland’s Barbara Mikulski; and Californians Diane Feinstein* and fellow class-of-92′er Barbara Boxer. (Actually, having first won a special election in 1992 to fill a partial term, Dianne Feinstein has served long than both Boxer and Murray despite winning only three regular elections since…so Murray has actually won one more full-term election than DiFi.)

Congrats Patty! WCF is proud to have worked on your campaign and thrilled to have your needed presence in the Senate.

Equality: Ur doing it wrong.

Seeing this headline on POLITICO yesterday almost made many of us cry: “John Boehner’s boys: The new power club.”

We couldn’t resist putting a more fitting caption on this testosterone-overloaded picture.

Post-Election Powerhouse Press Call

WCF’s president Sam Bennett and political director Erin Cutraro hosted a fantastic media call yesterday that included some high-caliber experts about, and participants in, women’s politics:

  • American University’s Women & Politics Institute Director and author Jennifer Lawless
  • Renowned Center for American Women and Politics Director Debbie Walsh
  • Groundbreaking former Virginia Congressional candidate Krystal Ball
  • Leading political strategist Celinda Lake
  • Terri Sewell, the first African American woman elected to Congress in AL-07

The panelists took questions from WCF members and the media about Tuesday’s election results and what it meant for representation in Congress and elsewhere. Read some of the great coverage of the call by NPR and the Associated Press.

Somebody Should Sack Shuler

After Tuesday’s House losses, it’s perfectly reasonable for there to be talk of a change in Democratic Caucus leadership to replace Nancy Pelosi from what now becomes the minority leader’s position. It’s clear that Republican strategy to demonize the unpopular Speaker, as the Washington Post’s Eugene Robinson discusses, worked on Tuesday.

But Heath Shuler as the new minority leader–is he kidding?

The former Redskin quarterback–once rated by ESPN the 4th biggest NFL “draft bust” of all time–couldn’t carry the Speaker’s luggage through an airport without fumbling. MsRep presumes Shuler is just trying to raise his profile or provide himself some electoral safety in his swing district by looking like the tough guy who challenged Pelosi’s authority.

Women In The New Congress

During WCF’s press call yesterday, many women and politics experts explained that the share of women within each party caucus held the same because Democrats lost women and men in roughly the same proportions as they presently have, and the same for Republican gains by gender. It’s only because the current Democratic caucus is more female (23 percent) than the GOP caucus (9 percent) that the net Democratic losses pulled the overall female share down. Washington Post blogger Garance Franke-Ruta takes a closer look at those new GOP women.

Women Not In the New Congress

Elsewhere in the WaPo, Jason Horowitz examines the fate of three female GOP statewide candidates–Meg Whitman, Carly Fiorina and Linda McMahon–who, despite their business backgrounds and ample campaign resources, lost Tuesday in what otherwise was the so-called “Year of the Republican Woman.”

The Economy–Not Anti-Choice Positions–Elected Them

Citing WCF’s own Jodi Jacobson–in a post she wrote over at RHReality Check–Salon’s Tracy Clark-Flory provides the cold, hard truth: Even though many anti-choice candidates who won congressional races did so because of the economy, watch for them to claim their victories were a mandate to restrict reproductive freedoms.

Change Slow For Female Candidates in Two Laggard States

Despite’s Nikki Haley glass ceiling-breaking victory in the governor’s office, South Carolina still has the smallest share of female state legislators in the country; halfway across the country, Utah has only had one female governor, one House member and no Senators–and none of the women running this year won. CarolinaLive.com’s Lisa Edge writes that South Carolina still has a long way to go toward women’s equality, and the Salt Lake Tribune’s Peg McEntee argues the same is true in Utah.

Meghan McCain: O’Donnell “Out Of Her Frickin’ Mind”

Yikes–let’s all please get out of Meghan McCain’s way. She let failed Delaware Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell have it the other night on The Tonight Show, saying she’s “out of her frickin’ mind.” She also echoed Karl Rove’s assertion (joined by WaPo columnist Michael Gerson) that Sarah Palin is not ready for prime-time, especially because her forthcoming Alaska reality show is “unpresidential.”

Female Breadwinners Still Must Make the Sandwiches At Home

So, as women gain economic parity in their marriages by advancing in status and salary at the workplace, the balance of duties at home is shifting as well so that men are shouldering more of the burden around the house, right? Um, sorry, but no.

That’s today’s Daily Brief! And please make sure to sign up to receive MsRepresentation’s Brief via email, and tell your friends!

Follow @WCFonline on Twitter.

Also, please send any tips or news you hear about to .

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Equality: Ur doing it wrong.

Seeing this headline on POLITICO this morning almost made me cry.

John Boehner’s boys: The new power club

I decided the testosterone-overloaded picture needed a more fitting caption:

Our first female Speaker…gone. Nine women House incumbents…ousted. We’re on the brink of losing representation in Congress.

Feeling as lost as I am? Join WCF for a post-election clean-up-the-mess, where-do-we-go-from-here press call at 3:30pm EST today.

Just call 218-936-4700, Access Code: 8155104#.

Along with Debbie Walsh, Jennifer Lawless, Celinda Lake, Representative-Elect Terri Sewell, Krystal Ball, we’ll make some sense of this election year and discuss how to move forward for gender equality - sometime this century.


WCF: Going the distance for our women

For the first time in WCF’s history, our entire staff and fellow class went out into the field to work with our candidates in the final weeks of the election.

Early in the cycle, we recognized that 2010 was going to be a challenging year for women—a year that called for dramatic action.

So, we answered the call, packed our bags, and hit the campaign trail.

And we’re so proud about what our 18-member team we accomplished across the country for our women:

  • Worked in 14 different states.
  • Called over 16,000 voters.
  • Knocked on over 3,000 doors.
  • Recruited over 300 volunteers.

We did everything from data entry and field organizing to stuffing yard signs and writing blogs. Our efforts increased the capacity and efficiency of our candidates to reach as many voters as possible.

In New Mexico, Frances McGaffey single-handedly managed a phone banking operation that generated 19,889 calls to support Diane Denish, candidate for Governor.

Bonnie O’Keefe served as the voter suppression point person to report incidences of voter fraud on Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick’s re-election campaign.

Sure, we experienced bumps along the way, such as slippery stairs during canvassing and travel troubles. But we were inspired by the determination of our candidates and they motivated us to make the extra effort and go the distance.

In the field, WCF staff has also worked to encourage more women to think about running for office. We collected the names of 120 talented women who should consider running for office through our She Should Run program. By building the pipeline for women across the country, WCF is always looking for ways to ask more women to think about for office.

Along the way, we met with organizations such as Arizona List, Emerge New Mexico, and the National Women’s Political Caucus of Washington. WCF is a collaborator. As part of the women’s community, we know that in order to achieve gender parity we must work together.

But at the end of the day, our main objective is to support our endorsed women, not a political party or particular race. We support a woman’s decision to run for office and encourage her from the very beginning; even when all the odds are against her. And this election year, our staff hit the pavement, offered a can-do spirit, and did whatever was needed to support our candidates.

For 36 years, WCF has worked to empower women who support reproductive health choices, on both sides of the aisle.

We know the difficult work ahead of us, and are prepared to face it. There are a lot of factors working against women candidates, but as long as there are women thinking about running for office, WCF will be there to give them the encouragement they need to keep going.

From the bottom of our hearts, thank you to all the women who ran in the 2010 cycle. We congratulate those who won and ask those who lost to run again.

WCF will be there for you when you’re ready to take your next steps.

By the Numbers: WCF-Endorsed Candidates 2010

Who were the Class of 2010 WCF-Endorsed Candidates? They were a diverse and inspiring group of women from across the country, who share a history of leadership and a passion for public service.

We thought you might enjoy a closer look at the women WCF endorsed in 2010 who made it to yesterday’s general election. All of this information was self-reported by our candidates.

Our work for 2012 starts today, and we want to continue to increase the vibrant diversity of our candidates.

If you know a great woman making a run for office, tell us about her in the comments!

Our candidates are leading the charge to change the face of elected office, one woman at a time.

Here’s an overview map of our 2010 WCF-Endorsed Candidates:

WCF 2010 Candidates by Age:

WCF 2010 Candidates by Race/Ethnicity

Only 4% of Congresspeople in the 111th Congress are women of color. There are no women of color serving in the Senate. We at WCF, know this is a crisis that must be addressed.

We strive to endorse women from all historically underrepresented groups, and we hope to do so at even higher levels during the 2010-2012 cycle.

Start a woman on the path to political leadership by asking her to run for office today.

These numbers only scratch the surface of WCF-Endorsed Candidates:

  • 40 of our women were running for office for the first time
  • Over 30 are current elected officials
  • 7 have held public office before
  • 6 were running for a second time
  • 4 are members of the LGBTQ community

Our candidates are teachers, business-owners, lawyers, mothers, activists, organizers, students, and more.

We firmly believe in further increasing the diversity of our endorsed candidates in every way, so that female leadership in elected office will someday reflect the incredible diversity of American women.

Join us on the path to gender equality in pubic office, and let us know about a candidate for 2011-2012 in the comments.

MsRepresentation Daily Brief: November 2, 2010


Be the first in the know: Click here to receive MsRepresentation’s Daily Brief via email.


Election Day is finally here, so MsRep opens the Brief with a simple and obvious plea: If you haven’t already voted early, vote today. Here is a list of poll closing times for every state and all the information you need to find your polling place, know what to bring, and how to get help.

Did YOU get to vote for a woman today? Tell us in the comments or on Twitter!

Make no mistake that women hold the pen to write history today. Will it be progress or regression? Do we hold onto our 17 percent representation in Congress, or create the first backslide in over three decades? Do we keep our powerful women advocates for reproductive health choices, or elect a new wave of women who want to take us back in time?

Down-Ballot? Down-Ticket? Down where?

Yes, there are more people to vote for in addition to Congressional and Senate candidates. Learn about the State Legislature where you live and make an informed vote today! See if you have any fantastic WCF-Endorsed women running in your state, at the Statewide and local level.

The Election Results Will Be Tweeted

MsRep says there’s one news source to tune into today: Twitter. If you want to break through the partisan spin of TV pundits and hear directly from the candidates themselves, make sure to follow our Endorsed Women on Twitter and stay in the know with WCF all day…and night. You can also catch up with us and our candidates on Facebook and Flickr.

All the single ladies? Some of the ladies? Anyone?

Poll after poll has shown a giant lack of enthusiasm among women voters—something that has continually puzzled and frustrated MsRep and other politically-active women. Colleen Flaherty talks about a few signs that this is indeed true, especially among young women voters. MsRep hopes that all women prove these polls to be dead wrong today.

Nine Reasons Women Need to Vote this Election Day

Speaking of which, Anea Bogue also wants women to get out and prove the pollsters wrong today.

Ninety years after the ratification of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote in this country, we find ourselves having made great strides toward equality between men and women, but there still exists a gap that must be closed.

Anti-Choice Female Governors Poised for Gain

Our warnings and concerns over the surge in women candidates who do not support reproductive health choices were, unfortunately valid. As Mary Kate Boylan reports in Women’s eNews:

“In the small number of races where women are running for governor today—eight out of 37—the anti-choice female candidates appear poised for more election victories.”

Only one of the six female gubernatorial candidates who is solidly pro-choice—Alex Sink in Florida—enjoys a polling lead and even she’s not considered a shoo-in.

7 Women Analysts Discuss How Women Will Affect GOP’s Chances Today

By now, MsRep’s loyal readers know 2010 has been a non-stop debate about the role of women in the GOP. So it only seems appropriate to kick off election day with a New York Times “Room for Debate” online roundtable with some of the nation’s leading political analyst discussing whether women voters will give GOP the edge this cycle?

Top Ten Things I Learned or Re-affirmed by Running for Pepper Pike City Council

MsRep’s own City Council member Jill Miller Zimon shares her knowledge as a woman who ran for office. (PS: Have you thought about running? Know a woman who should consider it? Check out She Should Run).

The Power of Michelle Obama

During the past month, the White House did not hesitate to use its best electoral weapon out on the campaign trail: First Lady Michelle Obama. She spent the final day of the campaign first in Nevada and trying to shore up Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s re-election bid, before flying east to Pennsylvania to stump for Senate Democratic candidate Joe Sestak.

Whitman, Fiorina Bids Fading Late

In what may be the ultimate anomaly of 2010, why are neither Meg Whitman nor Carly Fiorina likely to win their respective races in a state with a reputation for electing women, during a year in which Republicans are surging and female Republicans in particular are a big story? Meredith Vivian of USC’s Annenberg School of Journalism offers a pretty compelling explanation:

Unfortunately for Whitman and Fiorina, neither is the type of woman that California wants or needs. California has a history of electing intelligent, thoughtful and strong-willed women with a passion for improving the state. Californians have elected them to Congress, the state legislature, city councils and school boards. And I hope that one day in the near future, we will elect one as governor of California.

Alaska Senate Seat Up For Grabs

Wow. MsRep cannot ever remember a poll this late in a general election, statewide contest in which (a) three candidates were bunched so closely together; and (b) so many voters still undecided. But that’s what’s happening in the crazy Alaska Senate contest, where the top three candidates—incumbent Republican Lisa Murkowski running as a write-in because she was defeated in the primary by Joe Miller, along with Democrat Scott McAdams—are separated by less than two points…which is within the margin of polling error. And more than one in five Alaska voters polled are still undecided.

Iowa’s Glass Ceiling Looks Safe For Another Two Years

Iowa is one of four states to never elect a woman to Congress. (And just one of two, along with MS, yet to elect a woman to Congress or governor.) Barring some miracle, reports the Sioux City Journal, the Hawkeye State’s congressional distinction will survive at least another two years, as the only woman with any chance of winning, Mariannette Miller-Meeks in the 2nd District, trails heading into Election Day.

Republican Women Candidates Utilizing Social Media

Juliet Terzieff of Women’s eNews has a great feature piece on the rising social media savvy of women Republican candidates. Worth a read.

Listen in on our MsRep Post-Election Press Call

Such a historical year for women in politics warrants many discussions about the current landscape and how to move forward. That’s why we’re pulling together the foremost experts on women and politics to brief press on what the 2010 elections mean for women moving forward, and how we can ensure that we hunker down to work toward gender equality in the years to come.

Moderated by seasoned WCF Political Director Erin L. Cutraro, this call will give press the opportunity access to some of the foremost experts on women and politics your questions:

American University Women & Politics Institute Director Jennifer Lawless, Center for American Women and Politics Director Debbie Walsh, Virginia Congressional candidate Krystal Ball, and WCF President Sam Bennett.

Only 150 spots are available on the call, so stay tuned for details about how to listen into this unique post-election analysis on November 4 at 12:30pm.

That’s today’s Daily Brief! Thanks for reading and please check in throughout the day for results from key races, including those involving WCF-endorsed candidates.

And, please, vote.

Follow @WCFonline on Twitter.

Also, please send any tips or news you hear about to .

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MsRepresentation Daily Brief: November 1, 2010


Be the first in the know: Click here to receive MsRepresentation’s Daily Brief every morning via email.

VOTE like a Woman

Tomorrow is the big day. No more partisan spin, name-calling, or gender-bashing. Just voters and a ballot. The future is unwritten, and women have the chance to decide history. How will you use YOUR vote in this unprecedented election year? Will you move women forward or shove them backward? The choice—and power—is yours. Use it wisely.

Also, make sure you’re prepared for tomorrow: Find your polling place and know the rules.

2012: The Next Female Frontier

No matter what November 2 brings for women, we know one thing for sure: Women’s representation in public office will remain abysmal. Currently, women make up 17% of Congress. No matter how many women are elected tomorrow, we will still stand at a far cry from reality.

Does that make you nauseous? It should. That’s why we’re holding a press call at 12:30pm EST on Thursday, November 4.

As we brief the press on the new landscape of women’s political representation, we also invite supporters to listen in and get the inside scoop. We will be analyzing what the 2010 elections mean for women moving forward, and how we can ensure that we hunker down to work toward gender equality in the years to come.

Moderated by seasoned WCF Political Director Erin L. Cutraro, this call will give press the opportunity access to some of the foremost experts on women and politics your questions:

American University Women & Politics Institute Director Jennifer Lawless, Center for American Women and Politics Director Debbie Walsh, Virginia Congressional candidate Krystal Ball, and WCF President Sam Bennett.

Block off 12:30-1:30pm on your calendar for Thursday the 4th, and stay tuned for details about how to join the call.

Notes from the Trail: Sam and the Wise Latina, Linda Chavez-Thompson

Like the rest of the WCF staff, President Sam Bennett has been out on the campaign trail with our women candidates. She recently worked for Linda Chavez-Thompson in Texas, making calls and speaking with women voters. A candidate for TX Lt. Governor, Chavez-Thompson is poised to be the first Latina elected statewide in Texas history.

Boxer, Murray Races Key to Control of Senate

Prognosticator Charlie Cook has downgraded the GOP’s chances of taking back majority control of the Senate, citing specifically the stronger re-election prospects of Washington’s Patty Murray and California’s Barbara Boxer. Relatedly, the Las Vegas Sun’s Jon Ralston predicts Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will hold on, if barely, against Sharron Angle.

Palin Endorsed More Men Than Women in 2010

Palin the feminist? Maybe not. Politics Daily correspondent Sandra Fish points out that, “Only 25 of the 90-plus general election candidates Palin has endorsed or donated to are women.” To be fair, the GOP once again has a smaller share of female nominees this year who made it through primaries to the general election than do the Democrats. But as Fish argues, Palin’s picks may have more to do with shoring up her support among Papa Grizzly types who will have a lot of input on whom the Republicans will nominate for president in 2012.

“Paladino Runs Like Scared Little Boy”

Can you imagine a newspaper running a headline like the hypothetical one above, or a politician or pundit calling a 50-something male candidate a “little boy”? Possible, but unlikely. But that’s just the kind of language New York gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino used to describe Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand. When asked about the sexist remark, Paladino ran from the cameras—you know, like a scared little boy. (He also mispronounced the Senator’s last name. Fail.)

Five Female Political Analysts Discuss 2010’s “Year of Woman”

MsRep gives major kudos to The Atlantic’s Rachel Horn for interviewing five top woman political analysts—Jennifer L. Lawless, director of the Women & Politics Institute at American University; Linda Tarr-Whelan, author of Women Lead the Way; Dianne Bystrom, Director of the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics; Susan MacManus, University of South Florida political scientist; California Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey; and Debbie Walsh, Director of the Center for American Women and Politics—and asking them to explain why so many women ran for office this year and how 2010 compares to 1992.

Feldt: Get Angry

In Gloria Feldt’s latest column, she tells women there’s nothing wrong with getting angry about the political system and angry with politicians—so long as they channel that anger into voter turnout rather than voter apathy. MsRep of course agrees, but here’s Feldt in her own words:

“Troubling signs portend that this year, women voters, unlike men, aren’t getting mad or even—they’re getting depressed. More accurately, they are turning their anger inward instead of using its energy to propel action.

Instead, Democratic and progressive women of all stripes need to take a “get even” attitude as their new mantra. And they won’t get even by not showing up at the polls or by voting for a Republican out of anger at the Democrats’ failure to live up to their promises. That’s simply self-punishment by leaving power unused.

Elsewhere, Tonic.com’s Anea Bogue offers her own nine reasons women need to get out to vote tomorrow.

Five Things for Politicians to Remember About Women Voters on Election Day

PunditMom lays down some good ol’ fashioned truth about women voters this year, reminding us that moms are interested in more than just coupons and minivans; that Mama Grizzlies don’t have the corner on the motherhood market; and that yes, women are mad as hell.

X v. X Dispatches, Vol. 6: Suzanne Kosmas vs. Sandy Adams

Looking at the key congressional and statewide contests this year, TIME.com analyzes the race for FL-24, where “the twilight of the space-shuttle program has produced some of the worst joblessness on the peninsula.”

Palin Predicts Political Earthquake

The biggest buzz from yesterday’s final round of Sunday talk show appearances before the 2010 midterm elections was generated by none other than Sarah Palin, who predicted on Fox New Sunday that both Democrats and “establishment” Republicans alike should expect a political earthquake on Tuesday.

State Update: ME, NY

Maine Today reporters Scott Monroe and Susan Cover have a nice profile of gubernatorial candidate Libby Mitchell—the first woman ever elected to lead both the House and Senate in the state legislature; New York Daily News columnist Errol Louis, using the Paladino-Gillibrand “little girl” episode as a point of departure, says the “roar” of women voters tomorrow will determine the outcome in key races across the Empire State.

Remember to ROCK the VOTE for WOMEN tomorrow. In the meantime, find information on your polling place from Rock the Vote.

Also, mark your calendar for 12:30pm this Thursday, November 4 for a literal Rallying Call to make sure we’re all ready to fight for women for 2010 and beyond.

Follow @WCFonline on Twitter.

Also, please send any tips or news you hear about to .

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