Women are Winners in '95 Elections



by Linda Berg

Maine U.S. House candidate Dale McCormick, a savvy politician, strong NOW ally and out lesbian.

 "An Election Day Comeback for Women" read the headline of The Washington Post column praising NOW's role in the 1995 mid-term elections and our plans for 1996.

 Not only did we check the right wing's insidious political advancement (see NOW, Students Defeat Anti-Lesbian /Gay Measure), but this election resulted in real measurable gains for women in the three states where legislative races were held -- Virginia, New Jersey and Mississippi.

 The morning after the election the Post ran a large photo of a beaming Denise Lee, Virginia NOW State Coordinator. Virginia, the home of Ollie North, Jerry Falwell and the Christian Coalition, nearly doubled the number of women in the state Senate, increasing their numbers from four to seven. Women picked up another two seats in the Virginia House of Delegates. Before Nov. 7, Virginia ranked 46th in the nation for the percent of women held legislative seats; today it ranks 37th.

 "Virginia has made in unequivocally clear to the Christian Coalition and the right wing that we don't want to take this [right wing] direction," said Lee.

 Washington-area women also swept into power in local Virginia government. Women now hold top elected positions in three surrounding counties -- Fairfax, Prince William and Loudoun -- along with the city of Alexandria. A particularly sweet defeat was that of the daughter of G. Gordon Liddy by a strong feminist woman.

 In New Jersey, another state that had a poor national ranking (41st) with respect to the number of women in the legislature, NOW netted some surprise breakthroughs. "In an election where we expected to go from 15 to 14 women in our legislature, due to the PAC's hard efforts, we went from 15 to 17 women," said New Jersey NOW President Bear Atwood.

 In Mississippi, a state expected to endorse the "Gingrich revolution," every member of the state legislature who had switched parties from Democrat to Republican was defeated. And State Sen. Amy Tuck -- who is a strong women's rights supporter -- is being talked about seriously as a contender for a congressional seat.

 The nation is clearly tired of the mean-spirited agenda of the right wing and will amplify that message in the coming elections. Energized and encouraged by these results, NOW/PAC is planning its 1996 electoral strategy.

We will be poised and ready to jump into as many races and districts as possible, carrying the message that we must elect candidates who support women's rights. We already know some good feminist candidates who have thrown their hats into the ring. And we know others who are seriously considering running for office.

 Meanwhile our opponents, who have declared war on every issue that is dear to us, have amassed huge warchests. They are guaranteeing major funding for every candidate they can recruit to not only run in open seats, but to challenge every possible progressive member of Congress.

 We need your help. Although NOW has the best political organizers, we need the funds to send them out throughout the country to ensure that our message is heard. Please consider a contribution to the NOW/PAC immediately -- so we can seize the moment and fund our femnist candidates.
 
 


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