There has been a lot of talk this year about 2010 as a “Year of the Republican Woman,” about “mama grizzlies,” and about the Democratic Party needing a “Palin of our own.” Rebecca Traister, author of an acclaimed new book on the Clinton campaign, has just issued a plea that the Democrats “remember the ladies.” While she may be right at the national level, let’s talk about what’s happening differently here in New York this year.
After 44 years of a Republican majority, the State Senate flipped to Democratic control in 2008. In the two years that Democrats have led the Senate, almost 50 bills were passed that directly addressed opportunities or concerns for New York women. And now, in 2010, the New York Senate Democrats are proud to be backing 12 women candidates for State Senate—more than half of the Democratic challengers in this year’s election.
It is because the New York Senate Democrats know that women make up 51% of the state, and a larger share of the Democratic base, that they have recruited and supported so many women candidates. It is because they know that fairness and a commitment to the needs of everyday New Yorkers are core values for New York Democrats that so many different Senators, including many male Senators, sponsored legislation addressing fair pay, women-owned businesses, inequitable divorce laws, reproductive health, and violence against women. It is because the New York Senate Democrats know that 44 years of Republican control left the New York State Senate with one of the lowest percentages of women members of any legislature in the nation that they have created 16% and Rising to highlight our women candidates and our commitment to the women of New York.
Traister is right to call out for more attention to women’s leadership in the national Democratic party. But let’s also celebrate the opportunity we have here in New York to tell a different story. This is the year when more working moms bring their understanding of local economics to the Senate floor. This is the year when more tough-minded women take a stand against corruption at the State Capitol. This is the year when female candidates like Susan Savage, Mary Wilmot, Joanne Yepsen, Didi Barrett, Pam Mackesey and Cynthia Appleton are the face of the New York Senate campaigns—and male candidates like Mike Kaplowitz and Tony Avella are standing strong on issues like pay equity and women’s health. In the New York State Senate races, this is the year of the Democratic women.
Crossposted at 16% and Rising.