November Elections a Turning Point for Women
Races Big and Small Determine Our Future

by Linda Berg, Political Director

Just months into the year 2000, NOW/PAC has already helped elect the first new feminist woman to the 107th Congress-California State Senator Hilda Solis, who on Super Tuesday was the only candidate in the country to defeat an incumbent. Because her district is heavily Democratic, Solis' primary victory is equivalent to winning the general election.

We have special cause for celebration with the election of Solis. NOW/PAC not only endorsed her very early in the race, when conventional wisdom said that it would be impossible to oust a long-time incumbent, but we also mailed a letter to NOW members to raise her much-needed funds. Additionally, President Patricia Ireland and Senior Field Organizer Angela Arboleda campaigned in her district on her behalf. We can truly say that but for NOW/PAC, Solis would not be going to Congress.

Now that the primary season is over in most states, NOW/PAC will concentrate on November, targeting many important federal and state races in addition to the presidential contest. With the Supreme Court's support of Roe v. Wade and women's rights issues hanging by a thread, NOW/PAC activists are undertaking a major public education campaign to ensure that women and men recognize George W. Bush's so-called compassionate conservatism for what it really is: misleading alliteration uttered by a candidate who, like his father, has trouble with the "vision thing." (For more on W see article.)

Heated Races in the Senate

Exciting opportunities exist to add new feminist voices to the U.S. Senate, where women still constitute only 9 percent. Because the right wing is working feverishly to elect a president and Senate committed to overturning Roe v. Wade, an increase in feminist Senators will be critical when confirmation battles over Supreme Court Justices begin.

In Michigan, Representative Debbie Stabenow is set to challenge Senator Spencer Abraham, a consistent enemy of women's rights. With an equally poor voting record on women's rights, Senator Slade Gorton of Washington state is being challenged by two strong feminists-former Representative Maria Cantwell and Insurance Commissioner Deborah Senn. In New York, Hillary Rodham Clinton is running to fill the open Senate seat of Daniel Moynihan, who has been, at best, an occasional supporter of women's rights. The only incumbent feminist woman Senator facing a campaign this year is Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Calif., who is being challenged by Republican Rep. Tom Campbell.

Feminists Ready to Storm the House

House races this year offer an array of exciting candidates running for open seats or challenging disappointing incumbents. In an unusual alignment of the stars, feminist women candidates figure prominently in Democratic party targeting plans to take back the House, and this year many of them will be strongly supported by their party, progressive PACs and the unions. Because of this, many NOW/PAC endorsed candidates like Susan Davis, Calif., Jane Harman, Calif., Susan Bass Levin, N.J., Elaine Bloom, Fla., Maryellen O'Shaugnessy, Ohio, and Nancy Keenan, Mont., will not face primaries and can concentrate on running in the general election in November.

Other feminists like Eleanor Jordan, Ky., Maryanne Connelly, N.J., and Judy Smith, Ark., face stiff primary battles before they can run for high-priority, winnable congressional seats. In addition to these highly visible races, many feminists are running for competitive seats who could go to Congress if NOW can help raise the resources and provide the assistance that they need to run strong races.

You Can Help Us Win in 2000

NOW/PAC must continue to be one of the most effective and activist electoral organizers of the feminist movement. NOW/PAC activists have been working intensively to identify feminist candidates and provide them with advice and aid. NOW will spend the next few months training field organizers and activists to carry on this vital work.

During the National NOW Conference in Miami Beach, Fla., June 30-July 2, activists will have the opportunity through a Political Institute to hone their election skills with seasoned political organizers. The Victory 2000 program encourages each NOW chapter and state organization to work to elect one of its members to office to meet the goal of electing 2000 feminists by the end of this year. Through NOW PAC's Political Institute, we will stimulate enthusiasm as well as train effective feminist organizers to meet our electoral goal.

With Roe and a host of reproductive rights on the line, lesbian and gay rights under continual attack, and the economic plight of older women hanging in the balance, generous donations are needed to support the Political Action Committee's activities and to help ensure women's rights for the future. (See contribution form).


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