Women’s Equality Day
Happy 93d Anniversary of the day, August 26, 1920, when Women’s Suffrage in the form of the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution became law upon the notification by the Governor of Tennessee to the United States government that the state became the 36th to ratify the Amendment.
Georgia might not have approved this key right for women the first go-round, but it did send the nation’s first woman to the U.S. Senate — for all of 24 hours.
The full story of that short senatorial term will be told tomorrow night, when Louise Staman, author of a new book on Rebecca Latimer Felton, will speak at Neva Lomason Memorial Library as part of the League of Women Voters of Carrollton-Carroll County’s Summer Writers Series. The book is called “Loosening Corsets: The Heroic Life of Georgia’s Feisty Mrs. Felton, First Woman Senator of the United States,” and the presentation begins at 7 p.m.
Briefly told, Felton was appointed to the post by Georgia’s governor when Sen. Thomas Watson died suddenly in 1922. But the governor, Thomas Hardwick, never intended for her to be sworn in. That’s because the Senate had adjourned until after that fall’s general election, and Hardwick intended to win the seat himself, then be sworn in when the Senate reconvened. But he lost the election — and the winner delayed taking office for one day, just so Felton could be officially inaugurated at the nation’s first woman senator.
Writing in The Atlantic, Molly Ball discusses the seeming preference for women candidates that is emerging and the continuing low numbers of elected officials who are women. It’s fascinating, and I suggest reading the entire article.
In the two-year cycle of the political calendar, it is candidate-recruitment season—the time when Washington operatives fan out across the country to size up the political horseflesh. In the months to come, they will meet with scores of state legislators, small-town mayors, community activists, and upstanding business owners, gauging which ones might have what it takes to run for a House or Senate seat, or for governor or state treasurer. These political scouts will take many qualities into account, from life story to speaking ability to baby-kissing skills. But they will be looking, in particular, for a few good women.
This preference for women candidates may surprise you if you’re accustomed to thinking of female politicians in terms of the barriers they face—from Geraldine Ferraro’s being asked on Meet the Press in 1984 if “the Soviets might be tempted to try to take advantage of you simply because you are a woman,” to Hillary Clinton’s being heckled at a rally in 2008 by men shouting “Iron my shirt!” Women in politics, it has long been assumed, are trapped in a disabling web of double standards—presumed by voters to be weaker and less capable leaders, but punished for violating gender norms if they do act tough or get angry. Even though women were elected to Congress in record numbers in 2012, their representation still languishes at just 18 percent in the House and 20 percent in the Senate.
And yet the political operatives may be onto something. Evidence suggests that double standards may have once applied but don’t any longer. Shields and Myers prefer female candidates for a simple reason: voters, they say, tend to assume women are more trustworthy, less corruptible, and more in touch with everyday concerns. In a white-male-dominated political system, women are seen as outsiders. “Voters want change,” Shields said. “A woman candidate personifies change just by being on the ballot.” Myers added that, in these intolerably gridlocked times, “voters believe women are more likely to compromise and find common ground and solutions, and less likely to argue and triangulate for political advantage.” Both consultants also emphasized that women are harder to criticize than men. Sharp-edged attacks, particularly by male rivals, risk running afoul of the societal bias against, essentially, hitting a girl. The classic example: Clinton’s 2000 Senate race, in which her opponent, Rick Lazio, left his podium during a debate to demand that she sign a campaign-finance pledge. Lazio’s physically confrontational gesture was regarded as bullying, and helped sink his campaign.
In 2009, Deborah Jordan Brooks, a Gallup researcher turned Dartmouth professor, set out to investigate just how much bias female candidates still face, by conducting a series of controlled experiments with a large representative sample of American adults. As Brooks describes in her forthcoming book, He Runs, She Runs: Why Gender Stereotypes Do Not Harm Women Candidates, she distributed an array of made-up newspaper articles about a fictional politician who, in various scenarios, ran for office, “erupted” at a colleague, cried, made threats, and got important facts wrong in a public appearance. Half the survey participants read about “Congresswoman Karen Bailey,” while the other half read about “Congressman Kevin Bailey.” Only the first names and pronouns were different, and the respondents didn’t know what the study was designed to measure. After they read the articles, the participants were asked to rate the candidate’s characteristics.
On such traits as competence, empathy, and ability to handle an international crisis, the hypothetical male and female candidates were viewed almost identically. Nor was the woman candidate held to different standards of behavior: though perceptions of Congresswoman Bailey dimmed when she cried and raged, the same was true for Congressman Bailey. “It is tough to win over the public as a candidate,” Brooks said, “but there is no indication that it is tougher for women than for men.” The only exception to this general parity was in the scenario in which “Karen” and “Kevin” were described as first-time candidates with no experience in politics (“Mrs. Bailey … has owned and operated a chain of eight dry cleaning stores located across the state for the past 10 years”). In this case, the inexperienced female candidate was viewed as stronger, more honest, and more compassionate than the inexperienced male candidate. “One potential explanation is that, as members of a group who have traditionally been underrepresented in Congress and elsewhere, women new to politics get an ‘outsider bump’ when they run that is not accorded to men,” Brooks said.
Here’s the money quote from Molly Ball’s article:
So what is holding them back? Brooks believes that women’s own perceptions haven’t caught up with reality. When women run for office, they win just as often as men do. But fewer women run in the first place, perhaps because they’re convinced they will have a tougher time, face more scrutiny, and be subjected to unfair attacks and double standards. In one 2008 survey conducted by Lawless and another researcher, 87 percent of women said they thought the electoral environment was more challenging for women than for men. “That old conventional wisdom that women are at a disadvantage really needs to be debunked if we’re going to fix the pipeline problem,” Brooks told me.
A prominent Republican fundraiser, Pennsylvania energy executive Christine Toretti, is starting a SuperPAC called “Women Lead,” to raise money from Republican women and promote the candidacies of female candidates.
The group’s president, Stephanie Schriock, said Nunn could help Democrats hold the Senate by winning in the red-leaning state, where a crowded field of candidates is vying for the Republican nomination.
“She’s tied for the lead in the polls in one of our only chances to win a GOP Senate seat,” Schriock said in a fundraising email to supporters. “It’s important that we elect a Democratic woman like Michelle, but it’s just as important that we keep her right-wing, extremist opponents out of the Senate.”
The endorsement focused on three Republicans jostling to challenge Nunn in the general election and criticized them on women’s issues: Rep. Paul Broun on abortion, Rep. Phil Gingrey on former Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin’s rape comment, and former Susan G. Komen for the Cure official Karen Handel on a dispute with Planned Parenthood.
“Think about it this way,” Schriock said. “If you’re looking for the next Todd Akin, Georgia’s the place.”
So here’s where the real purpose of that skewed poll by PPP that purports to show Michelle Nunn leading or tied with the GOP candidates is made clear – the real purpose is fundraising by national Democratic organizations using the “Todd Akin” line.
Continuing our discussion of women in politics, I’ll go ahead and get this out of the way, as it doesn’t really fit anywhere: I’m awarding Karen Handel +1 for this.
Emma Witman writes for the Gainesville Times that the Supreme Court’s decision striking down the Voting Rights Act formula that required Justice Department pre-clearance of changes to Georgia voting laws is part of the background for this year’s celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the passage of the Civil Rights Act and the March on Washington. It’s a very good article that I recommend for your reading list.
Willie Mitchell, a Gainesville City Schools board member and past president of the Hall County-Gainesville NAACP, said his concern for voting rights is part of the reason he will be marching on Washington for the anniversary.
“A part of the conversation and a part of the protest is about the Voting Rights Act,” Mitchell said. “The problem I have with that is too many states are coming up with rules and regulations that would deny people the right to vote. To me it’s reminiscent of the old days, when they would do gerrymandering and poll taxes to exclude minorities.”
Sex discrimination continues — for backyard chickens
A Committee of Fayette County Commissioners is considering allowing chickens to be raised in residential areas, but hens only, no roosters. While I am sympathetic to hipsters who wish to raise backyard chickens, I can testify that the presence of roosters in a densely-populated community is horrible. When a neighbor had a rooster, the freaking thing started out before I woke up and kept crowing all day long, every single day.
person rooster Foghorn Leghorn said, “I say, boy, I say!”
More things losing candidates say
7. “Money doesn’t win elections, ideas do.”
8. “I’m going to win this race the same way I did when I got elected to the state House.”
9. “People know me.”
10. “My district is different.”
Left out of all of this is the all-time classic that every political consultant, strategist, and campaign manager hears regularly: “The [money/support/volunteers/pixie dust] will be there when we need it.” is often used to justify not actually asking for money or support. But stuff doesn’t magically appear for campaigns – you have to go out and make it happen.
Barrow County GOP Straw Poll Results
(Photo of Ken Young by Jon Richards – see more of Jon’s shots from the Barbecue here.)
Ken Young from the Barrow County Republican Party also receives +1 point for reporting both in-the-district and overall numbers from this weekend’s straw poll at the Barrow County GOP Barbecue:
Overall Total – for 10th District U.S. Congress
Donna Sheldon – 54 (23.48%)
Gary Gerrard – 47 (20.43%)
Jody Hice – 40 (17.39%)
Mike Collins – 38 (16.52%)
Stephen Simpson – 22 (9.57%)
Brian Slowinski – 5 (2.17%)
Undecided – 24 (10.44%)
10th U.S. District Votes Only – 10th U.S. District
from those who indicated on their ballot
Mike Collins – 26 (28.89%)
Donna Sheldon – 22 (24.44%)
Stephen Simpson – 13 (14.44%)
Jody Hice – 12 (13.33%)
Gary Gerrard – 10 (11.11%)
Brian Slowinski – 2 (2.22%)
Undecided – 5 (5.57%)
Qualifying opens today
This week brings qualifying for many Mayors and City Council seats across the state, along with a handful of referenda and special elections. And that means political advertising, whether it be direct mail, newspapers, television, even the internet.
Like this one from David Perdue, the first display ad we’ve seen from a GOP candidate in the campaign for U.S. Senate.
Among the candidates qualifying this week will be former Snellville Mayor Pro Tem Barbara Bender, who seeks a return to City Council after her unsuccessful run for Mayor against Kelly Kautz.
Peachtree City will see former Mayor Harold Logsdon try to return against Incumbent mayor Don Haddix, current Council members Vanessa Fleisch and George Dienhart, and Ryan Jolly, who has not held office before. Additionally, two seats on the Council will be elected for four year terms, as well as the remaining two years of a third seat, being vacated by Dienhart.
Fayette County may or may not have special elections for County Commission, depending on the
whim decision of a federal judge overseeing an ordered transition from at-large voting districts to districts. From theCitizen.com
The switch to district voting means that residents will no longer have the ability to vote for all five seats on both the county commission and the board of education. Instead, residents will only be limited to voting for just one post on each board: the post which corresponds with the geographic district of the county they live in.
The new district map is necessary per Batten’s ruling to create a special district that has a majority of black voters. The NAACP has successfully argued that the special district is necessary as a remedy to the current at-large voting system.
The NAACP’s map creates a majority-minority district, labeled as the “fifth district” which stretches from an area north of Tyrone, capturing a large segment of north Fayette county and reaching into north and east Fayetteville.
The NAACP is seeking a special election this November, while the county commission is wanting the district voting to become effective at the next regular election cycle which would be next year. The county is already planning to host a countywide special election to poll voters on a proposed “core infrastructure” Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) for a period of two years.
In addition to elections for Screven City Council and Board of Education, all Wayne County voters will decide on an E-SPLOST in the November elections. A committee will be formed to “sell” the measure on the ballot.
Mail gone wild
In Quitman, Ga, a dispute is simmering between two candidates for Colquitt County Clerk of Court, centered on an anonymous direct mail piece attacking one of the candidates.
The flyer, which appears cheaply done and on poor-quality paper, includes on one side a photo of incumbent Clerk of Court Lynn Purvis with a circle around it and line through the circle.
It was mailed anonymously with individual stamps rather than bulk postage, and also contains the phrases “Failed Marriage,” “Tax Liens” and Bankruptcy.” It closes with: “Learn the facts before you vote.”
Purvis faces Shannon Hart, the Colquitt County Sheriff’s Office chief investigator who took a leave of absence to run for office, in a Sept. 17 special election. Early voting begins Monday in the contest whose winner will fill the unexpired term of former Clerk Carolyn Marshall, who resigned earlier this year.
On the other side the card contains a return address for a Moultrie post office box. The box given has not been assigned to anyone in about four years, Moultrie Postmaster David Porter said.
Hart’s campaign takes responsibility for a bulk-mailed campaign flyer that hit mail boxes in the county on around Aug. 15, said Moultrie insurance agent Bill Acuff who is assisting with the campaign.
That flyer mentions property liens and a bankruptcy proceeding naming Purvis and husband Steve Purvis. It also states that it was paid for by the Committee to Elect Shannon Hart.
However, Acuff said the campaign had nothing to do with the other one.
“That’s reprehensible,” he said of the anonymous flyer. “We find this mail piece offensive.”
Acuff said that he is aware of criticism of the mailing that was paid for the campaign.
The Observer has confirmed that the anonymous flyer was sent to multiple households, but apparently not a widespread mailing.
Acuff said that Hart’s campaign literature was sent only to Colquitt County voters who cast ballots in the last four political contests.
In Newton County, less than 3000 incorrect property tax notices were sent out of more than 44,000, so no biggie, right? Corrections will be sent out.
In Temple, Ga, only 425 incorrect notices of challenges to voter qualifications were sent out, but it totals roughly 20% of all registered voters. Oops.
The notices, sent to more than 400 of the city’s 2,000 registered voters, read “Notice of challenge: Your attention is required to remain a city elector!” The back of the notices contain a list of reasons, such as “individual has moved from the address listed on voter registration record.”
City officials say the notices were sent in error and should be disregarded.
“Apparently there was an error by an employee who filled it out. The city has withdrawn the challenges,” said Cynthia Daley, Temple’s city attorney.
Daley said corrective action will be taken by the Carroll County Board of Elections, noting that “the city was dealing with the elections office, not individual voters.”
Per the notices, if residents in question didn’t call a phone number to provide information or appear at a hearing scheduled for Friday at 2 p.m. at the county elections office, they would be stricken from the voter rolls and unable to vote in this fall’s elections.
The notices appear to have been sent to anyone in the city who didn’t have a water bill in their name or own property, which is nearly 20 percent of Temple’s registered voters.
If it were me, I wouldn’t just disregard the notice, I’d go get something on paper from the Board of Elections.
Assorted Political announcements
After state Senator Hardie Davis announced that he will run for Mayor of Augusta next year, current Mayor Pro Tem Corey Johnson announced that he will run for the Senate District 22 seat being vacated by Davis.
Lend a Helping Hand to Central Georgia Young Republicans
Central Georgia Young Republicans will host Georgia Senator Josh McKoon (R-Columbus) at their next meeting, September 12th at 7:30 PM at Sticky Fingers in Macon.
While you’re at it, please visit them on Facebook and “Like” their page to help them get to 200.