If asked to characterize the recent election outcome in a single
headline, former Vermont governor and commentator Madeleine Kunin might
sum it up like this: Women take over the New Hampshire Congressional
(Kunin) The minute I walked into the room, cheers broke out. This was New
Hampshire, the state that made history on election night by sending a
totally female l delegation to Congress – two senators, two
congresswomen – AND – elected the second female governor. Maggie Hassan.
This was a meeting of mostly women, called the Women’s Initiative. Many
had worked for female candidates, several had just been elected. A
strong waft of estrogen floated through the air, rising above an
intoxicating cloud of euphoria. Few had thought all the democratic women
would get elected, joining Republican Senator, Kelly Ayott and
Democratic Senator, Jean Shaheen. After all, this was New Hampshire, the
state that swung from republican control to democratic control in 2008,
and then swung back to the Republicans two years later, with
breathtaking speed. And here we go again, back to the Democrats!
New Hampshire and Vermont have competed for who has the highest percentage of women in the legislature.
Two years ago, New Hampshire plunged to 22nd place. This year, they’re
back up there, in 4 th place and yes, Vermont is in 2 nd place, at 37
percent. In case, you’re curious, Colorado is first, at 42 percent.
I confess, I’m somewhat envious of their achievement when I know that’s
not about to happen in Vermont anytime soon. We’re one of five states
that has never elected a woman to Congress. Yes, good men represent us,
so good that they get re-elected without breaking a sweat.
Still, when will it be our turn?
Women captured a few more seats nationwide with 20 percent in the House
and Senate, up from 17 percent last year. All fought tough races,
opposed by heavily financed negative ads. Two were aided by outrageous
comments abut rape made by their opponents.
One take away from 2012 is that he who attacks women – beware.
Another take away is that gender is not the obstacle it used to be the
public is ready to elect female candidates if they seem more qualified
than their male opponents.
What is not yet known is how much difference these newly elected women
will make? Female politicians traditionally have lead the charge on
women’s and family issues. They are somewhat more supportive of
education, health care and the environment than their male colleagues.
Twenty percent is progress. But alas, there will only be 5 female
governors – a mere 10 percent.
When we reach 50 percent, it will be time to party. In the meantime in the words of Maureen Dowd, New
Hampshire may change its motto from "Live Free or Die," to "Live Pink