Early Primaries Pose New Challenges

by Linda Berg

The political season is heating up earlier than usual -- thanks to the new, front-loading of presidential primaries. We must focus our attention now or we will squander wonderful opportunities.

Within the next few months primary voters will select the candidates for general election matches. This is a precarious time for supporters of feminist candidates; if they don't make it through their primaries, many of us will end up with a choice between Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dumber.

As usual, the state of California offers us both vast opportunity and danger. Besides being the only state to have elected two women senators, Californians have elected some of our strongest feminist leaders in the U.S. House: Reps. Lynn Woolsey, Nancy Pelosi, Zoe Lofgren, Lucille Roybal-Allard, Maxine Waters, Anna Eshoo and Jane Harman. The amount of money the right wing has raised to target these women is staggering, and we must rise to the challenge of protecting our friends.

However, in addition to protecting our incumbent allies, we must also bring them reinforcements. One of the most exciting developments in this electoral cycle is that NOW National Board Member Anita Rufus is challenging Rep. Sonny Bono for the U.S. House seat based in Palm Springs, Calif.

Not only is Anita an ardent feminist, but she brings to the table the experience of having moved from being a single mother on welfare to being a top executive at a large corporation. In addition, Anita has become well known in her community as "The Lovable Liberal," an outspoken former radio talk show host who challenged right wing rhetoric and assumptions.

NOW/PAC was the first national Political Action Committee to endorse Anita and hand her a sizeable check. Not only does Sonny Bono, of course, have unlimited access to funds, he also uses his huge PR connections to attempt to soften his image.

However, this is the same Sonny Bono who described as "magic" his first encounter with his dear friend Newt Gingrich. Wouldn't it feel terrific to have contributed to the effort that would allow Anita to be able to say "Sonny, we got you, babe."

Let us help Anita and all of the other women across this country who have heard our call and are challenging right wing extremism in Congress. Let us not forget that many of our incumbent women in Congress will be facing the fight of their political lives with the vast right wing fund-raising army aimed at their districts.

We can feel the political pendulum heading in our direction. We just need to make sure that our candidates -- our feminist candidates -- are positioned to take advantage come election day. For without our support, to whom else could they turn?

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