by Linda Berg
As the election season nears, political solicitations fill our mailboxes. Wonderful and not-so-wonderful candidates come begging for individual contributions. Many of the large public interest groups and political action committees are also be digging for dollars. Feminists realize that without our financial backing many good candidates and causes will not be adequately funded. But how do we target our resources?
For example, even in a non-presidential year like 1994, 143 women ran for the U.S. House, 20 for U.S. Senate and 23 for governor. Hundreds of women filed for state legislative, county and city offices.
As committed as NOW is to women's rights, we know from experience that we cannot vote for and support a candidate merely because of gender. And even if we, as individuals, could evaluate all these candidates and their stands on our issues, none of us has the personal resources to back all of the deserving candidates and causes.
That's where a political action committee (PAC) comes in, especially NOW/PAC. By donating to a PAC that supports the feminist issues you care about, you can pool your money with other donations and make a greater impact. If you can only spare $10 this election cycle and give it to NOW/PAC, we can combine many small contributions and make a sizeable donation to the best women's rights candidate.
But why contribute to NOW/PAC? People who receive multiple solicitations from other women's PACs frequently ask what makes NOW/PAC distinct.
A Broad Agenda
NOW/PAC is the only women's rights PAC that bases its endorsements on a broad feminist agenda.
Because we endorse on the basis of issues, there are times when we endorse a man as the strongest feminist candidate. It is a movement truism that, just as not all women are feminists, not all feminists are women. Then again, though NOW/PAC endorses both women and men, we are partial to women when all things are equal.
Not only do we cover the widest range of feminist issues with our candidates, but because we are the largest grassroots feminist organization in the country, we are able to become involved with candidates at every level of elected office. We know the lower level offices serve as the pipeline to the highest levels of office, and we want to have feminists in place at every level ready to move up when they can.
Various NOW PACs endorsed almost 900 candidates throughout the country for all levels of elective office in 1994. National NOW/PAC provided monetary support, technical assistance, political advice and grassroots organizing. Our state organizations developed the strong relationships with office holders and candidates. Through our combined efforts, we had a phenomenal success rate in an election year dominated by news of the so-called Republican revolution in Congress.
We don't just endorse sure winners, though. We look for strong candidates with potential. We know a candidate may need to run for office once to get practice and name exposure and then win on the second effort.
We recruit and endorse strong feminists in ways that defy conventional political wisdom. We supported U.S. Rep. Cynthia McKinney, D-Ga., before she could afford expensive polls, while political wags still deemed her too young, too liberal and, with her cornrow hairstyle, too Black to win. And we backed U.S. Sen. Carol Moseley Braun, D-Ill., early on, encouraging her to run in the primary against an incumbent even though she was then a little-known state senator.
No Minimum Donation
And NOW/PAC doesn't ask for a minimum donation. Sometimes we open envelopes that bear a single, crumpled dollar bill. Those dollar bills added to others help fund the next generation of feminist political leaders.
Rest assured that your donation to the NOW/PAC funds our crucial work.
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