Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Girls On Top

A roundup of great news from the great women of Virginia politics:

  • Leslie Byrne for Lieutenant Governor is first to file for the Democratic Primary for Lieutenant Governor.

  • Janet Oleszek makes top of the ballot in the Democratic Primary for House District 37 in Fairfax.

  • Linda Crandell adds her name to the ticket in House District 99 in Northern Neck.
  • Senator Leslie Byrne and School Board Member Janet Oleszek filing their papers first in their respective primaries is big news in the context of this year's election regulations in Virginia. To put her name on the ballot, a candidate must file the signatures of supporting registered voters in her district. Byrne needed 10,000 signatures statewide; the number of signatures drops as you work down the ballot. In the past, candidates' names have appeared on the ballot in alphabetical order. However, this year, the first candidate to file in a given primary appears on top. In other words, first to file = first on the ballot. Thus, being first to file puts Byrne and Oleszek at the top of their candidate listings and gives them each a significant strategic advantage in their own races.

    Colonial Beach Town Council Member Linda Crandell is stepping up to hold the seat of retiring Northern Neck Democrat Al Pollard, Jr. Pollard and Crandell are both accomplished and widely respected Democrats. The Democratic party is lucky to have a candidate of Crandell's caliber to hang on to a seat that Virginia republicans are characterising as "a GOP-leaning district, but ... also very winnable for the Dems."

    To appreciate the news from the Byrne, Oleszek, and Crandell campaigns, we need to look at the demographics of Virginia state politics. When Democrats Paula J. Miller and Rosalyn Dance won their special elections this winter, they became respectively the 10th and 11th women in the 100-member Virginia House of Delegates. The Miller and Dance wins bring the Democratic tally in the House up to 38 members. Six of those Democrats, including Miller and Dance, are women--but Delegate Marian Van Landingham (House District 45 in Alexandria) recently announced her retirement, and Delegate Viola Baskerville (House District 71 in Richmond) is running in the Lieutenant Governor primary and is expected to step down from her house seat.

    Women may constitute over 50% of the population and be the backbone of the Democratic party...but in the game of "representative politics," we've got a lot of catching up and representing to do.

    It is great to see Crandell and other great Democratic women standing for office this year. Some of the great women Democrats joining Crandell, Oleszek, and Byrne on the ballot in other parts of the state include:

  • Jennifer McClellan (House District 71 in Richmond), running in the Democratic primary to step up as a successor to Delegate Baskerville;
  • Supriya Christopher (House District 84 in Virginia Beach), a broadcaster and a navy wife, running a great campaign in an open seat race to replace a retiring republican;
  • Prince William County Supervisor Hilda Barg (House District 52 in Prince William County), mounting a challenge against a vulnerable anti-tax extremist republican freshman.
  • As Matt Stoller pointed out in his fabulous W is for Women post live-blogging from the Republican National Convention this summer, the republicans admit internally that they can not win against competitive, female Democratic candidates.

    It's great to see the Democrats are finally waking up to what the republicans have known for a long time: to win, we need to run more women.

    If Byrne or Baskerville were to win the Lieutenant Governor nomination this year, they stand a shot at not only being the first woman Lieutenant Governor in Virginia, but from there in 2009 to being our first female Governor.

    Let's get serious about turning Virginia blue and send a woman straight to the top.



    Cross posted to BOP News.

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