Huffington Post – NEW YORK (AP) — The Democratic Party claims to be the natural home for women.
The numbers tell another story when it comes to the nation’s governors.
Republicans, four women: Jan Brewer in Arizona, Susana Martinez in New Mexico, Mary Fallin in Oklahoma and Nikki Haley in South Carolina. Democrats: Maggie Hassan in New Hampshire.
For the GOP, often accused of waging a “war on women,” this advantage offers a powerful tool in the competition for female voters.
“We have to show the fact there is no war on women,” said Nikki Haley, who’s in her first term. “The more Republican women out there, the better our case is.”
Democratic leaders, backed by national women’s groups, are trying to turn it around in gubernatorial elections next fall that feature no less than six high-profile female candidates. Their goal is to give Hassan, who faces re-election in 2014, some company.
“My mother always used to say if you want something done, ask a busy woman,” says Rhode Island’s treasurer, Gina Raimondo, a 42-year-old mother of two young children who began her campaign last week. “People in Rhode Island want someone who’s going to do something.”
Raimondo is a leading contender in the crowded Democratic primary to succeed Lincoln Chafee, the Democratic incumbent who’s not running for a second term.
In Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Texas, there also are strong female candidates.
Gender is not a central issue in theses contests, but the Democratic women are using their backgrounds to help distinguish themselves.
Several candidates interviewed by The Associated Press said that the real-world stresses of raising families help them connect with voters, while shaping their priorities on issues such as health care, education and jobs.
In some cases, they’re up against male incumbents who elevated women’s issues by backing conservative social priorities on abortion, contraception and “equal pay” legislation.
In Pennsylvania, Democratic U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz charges that Republican Gov. Tom Corbett has “almost been dismissive of women,” particularly on issues such as “access to family planning and reproductive rights.”
Corbett has drawn criticism for cutting education, and like other Republican governors, supported legislation requiring women to get ultrasounds before having abortions. That idea never became law, but Corbett did say that women should close their eyes if they felt the procedure was too obtrusive.
“It is important for us in Pennsylvania to see a new and different kind of leadership that will move the state forward. It may well take a woman to do that,” Schwartz told a recent gathering of Pennsylvania politicians in New York City. She’s considered the early front-runner in the primary.
In state and national elections, women are a powerful voting bloc.