Women And The GOP -- Part I, Governors

Two problems for the national GOP that I've been writing about for several years are in evidence in a special election going on in upstate New York, for an open Congressional seat long held by a moderate Republican. The state GOP powers there maneuvered to nominate Dierdre "Dede" Scozzafava -- or, as Michelle Malkin calls her, "radical leftist Dede Scozzafava." The Conservative Party, which most often puts the GOP nominee on its own line on New York ballots, rejected Scozzafava and chose the rejected conservative candidate, Doug Hoffman. Hoffman, a CPA, is essentially a nobody Tea Party guy, but has become a national cause celebre for conservatives -- which has effectively killed Scozzafava's chances, and will probably hand the seat to the Democrat.

The obvious issue has gotten a lot of attention: that the Republican voting base is now dominated by stalwart movement conservatives who are shunning electable candidates in favor of unelectable ideological purists.

So I'll concentrate on the other issue: the continuing extinction of the species known as the elected Republican woman.

This New York race was a great chance to add one, and now that chance is gone. 

As I've been writing for at least three years, the GOP is experiencing a remarkable decline in female officeholders. I won't get into my theories about the causes here. But, I'm very interested to see what happens in the 2010 election cycle -- which, unlike '06 and '08, should provide considerable opportunities for new Republican candidates. That should mean gains in women for the party, if it's still possible for that to happen.

A year away, the signs are not good.

Let's start with governors -- a huge opportunity, with dozens of elections, the majority of which are for open seats.

Currently, there are only three women Republican governors -- all of which might be gone after the 2010 elections. Lingle of Hawaii is term-limited out; Brewer in Arizona (a fluky inheritor of the seat) is wildly unpopular; and Rell of Connecticut is rumored to be retiring.

(There are also only three women Democratic governors; there were five before the Obama administration grabbed a couple.)

So far, I know of Republican women running or considered likely to run in only nine states. The most likely to win is Mary Fallin of Oklahoma, although that's no sure thing. Kay Bailey Hutchison is taking on Republican incumbent Rick Perry in a Texas intraparty clash of titans, with the outcome iffy. Meg Whitman is the frontrunner for the nomination in California, but it's already tough sledding for her, and her odds of winning the general seem slim. Kay Ivey has a legitimate shot in Alabama against a half-dozen other Republicans. Two women are running in New Mexico, but are not favored. In South Carolina, Nikki Haley is a longshot favorite of the conservative/libertarian blogosphere. Karen Handel is a similar story in Georgia. Pat Anderson, a Ron Paul type, is a longshot for the Minnesota nomination. Sharon Ullman, a sometime Democrat, was unlikely to get the GOP bid in Idaho even if incumbent Butch Otter didn't run again, which he is.

Of course, there's still time for others to jump in. For instance, former congresswoman Heather Wilson is reportedly considering it in New Mexico. She'll be considered a frontrunner, but then again she was considered a frontrunner in the 2008 Senate race, and GOP primary voters picked ultraconservative Steve Pearce instead.

It seems to me that, as things stand, the GOP has a good shot at ending this cycle with the same number of women governors as they have now -- three -- and could possibly have more, or less.
| More

 Friends' Activity   Popular 
All Blogs
Follow the Phoenix
  • newsletter
  • twitter
  • facebook
  • youtube
  • rss
Latest Comments
Search Blogs
Talking Politics Archives