[updatedx2] GOP’s White House 2012 ticket: Female-Female?

NB: Thanks to Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post’s The Fix for linking to this post. He’s got a great companion piece that looks at the question of which women are in the wings, but reviews mostly Democratic possibilities.  I thought this post of mine compliments that with a look at GOP options.  Please feel free to add more names in the comments. Oh, okay – and he’s a fellow Hoya.

During my appearance on CNN.com/LIVE yesterday, I mentioned that one of the side effects of soon-to-be-former Alaska Governor and GOP Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin’s decision to not run for re-election as governor and to resign as of July 26 is that, seeing that she has done it (run for her state’s highest office and then leave it with 18 months to go) and justified those decisions with a variety of rationales, who is to say that she has not opened a floodgate for potential female primary candidates for the GOP presidential and vice presidential nominations? Male candidates become “career politicians” all the time, from both parties, right? Why not the women?  If we’re breaking down barriers, why not let the ambition women have be overt, just like the men’s, to keep climbing higher in politics?

This thought path got me thinking:

Could we see a female-female GOP ticket for president and vice president in 2012?

Why not?

In addition to Palin’s decision-making leading me to wonder outloud about this possibility, there are the multiple groups that continue to support women who want to engage in a political life and even enter politics.

Then, there’s the galvanizing fact that since January 2009, our country has gone from having 41 42 male and nine eight female governors, to, by the end of July 2009, having 44 male and six female governors (Janet Napolitano and Kathleen Sebelius moved to cabinet positions in the Obama administration and that took us down to seven; Palin’s departure before the end of her first term leaves us with six).

[Update: Napolitano was replaced by a woman, so the remaining six will be:

1. Arizona – Jan Brewer

2. Connecticut – M. Jodi Rell

3. Hawaii – Linda Lingle

4. Michigan – Jennifer Granholm

5. North Carolina – Bev Perdue

6. Washington – Christine Gregoire

This Women’s eNews article explains how we got into this situation, but here’s the gist:

There are currently eight female governors, and one–Democrat Ruth Ann Minner of Delaware–is retiring, to be replaced by one of three male nominees.

The other seven gubernatorial races this year feature all-male slates.

This year’s field of female nominees is down from the record 10 that ran each year in 1994, 2002 and 2006, according to the Center for American Women and Politics.

That’s partly because there are only 11 governor’s races this year, far fewer than in midterm election years, which host more gubernatorial elections.

[End update]

And then there’s the fact that the U.S. is only 72nd in the world in the number of women in its federal legislature (17% are women in the Congress overall; in the state legislatures, it’s about 24%).  The top 10 countries on that list – all but the last two with 40% or more of its national legislature being female?

Rwanda
Sweden
South Africa
Cuba
Iceland
Finland
Netherlands
Argentina
Denmark
Angola

And, with Palin deciding she must go now, we will have barely over 5% 12% of our country’s governors being women by next month.

Totally unacceptable.

So, who have I thought of, literally just off the top of my head? The top three, and most seriously potential contenders for a presidential or vice-presidential run, based on the GOP’s Palin-as-VP benchmark for the GOP:

1. Kay Bailey Hutchison – Hutchison is running to win the GOP Texas governor nomination against incumbent Rick Perry.  Whether or not she wins, why shouldn’t she be considered a serious presidential or VP candidate? Again, if Sarah can be…

2. Sarah Steelman – Steelman won big marks from some conservative segments for pushing a tiny pilot project that was composed of investment funds that were 100% devoid of companies that dealt with Iran.  She was Missouri Treasurer for four years but lost in her bid to become governor in a narrow primary loss. Her Wikipedia entry says,

“Treasurer Steelman may run for the United States Senate against incumbent Claire McCaskill in 2012 or run for governor against incumbent Jay Nixon that year. She may also run for the open seat in 2010 due to Kit Bond‘s retirement.”

If Sarah can do it, why not…Sarah? Steelman that is.

3. Meg Whitman – Whitman is best known for her success and decade-long tenure as President and CEO of eBay, but she actually started out at P&G in Cincinnati, yeah Ohio.  She spoke at the RNC’s convention last year and has raised several million dollars toward her CA gubernatorial primary (Arnold Schwarzenegger is term-limited). Wikipedia has a nice portraiture display of CA candidates and potential candidates, and Carly Fiorina is in the bunch under the GOP but might run against one of CA’s U.S. Senators, Barbara Boxer.  Still, if we learned nothing from John McCain’s selection of Sarah Palin and its impact on predicting political trajectories, we’ve learned not to count out anyone as a potential 2012 GOP female-female White House ticket.

Less likely but still “hey! who knows!”:

4. M. Jodi Rell – Connecticut governor in her sort of second term (she was preceded by Republican John Rowland who went off to federal prison in early 2004; Rell was then elected to the position in 11/06) with crazily high approval rates despite lackluster verbal support from natives (I know – I’ve been for a few days at a time this month, including a tweet-up with some very politically savvy local folks).  Remember – Rell is one of the last GOP standing in New England – no small feat.  Palin, on the other hand, might have been a different kind of Republican or conservative, but Alaska has a very firm history in electing Republicans.  Not so the trend in New England, where Rell hangs on.  With the GOP losing so much ground in New England, would Rell be a good VP choice in 2012?

5. Linda Lingle – I know very little about Hawaii and even less about Lingle.  But hey, that was the state of knowledge many of us had about Sarah Palin exactly 12 months ago, so, again, I say, why not Lingle?  She’s in her second term as governor of Hawaii.  She even ran in 1998 and was defeated, and came back to run and win in 2002. (And, bonus – she is a Jewish Republican – we know how rare such individuals are in the federal government – think how great that could be on a female-female White House ticket for the GOP).

6. Olympia Snow or 7. Susan Collins – These two U.S. Senators from the great state of Maine, where I spent many years through my 20s, are total mavericks with a ton of various previous experiences.  They crossed the aisle with the other two GOP female U.S. Senators and then GOP Senator Arlen Specter to vote for the Lilly Ledbetter Act, but they also supported President Obama’s stimulus package and got creamed for it.  But, again, if the GOP can go for mavericks like McCain and Palin, and these two women have been in office far, far longer than Palin, again – why, not?  And don’t forget: New England has few Republicans and the ones they do have? Seem to be mostly (though not all) women.  Added bonus: Maine is at the forefront of campaign finance reform and publicly financed elections. Talk about fiscal conservatism and accountability.

8. Elizabeth Dole Dole has really done it all – been a cabinet secretary, a wife of a U.S. Senator, a U.S. Senator herself, the head of the American Red Cross, and much, much more (her experience extends back to the Johnson administration).  But last year, she launched a very controverisal religion-themed ad against her Democratic opponent for the senate re-election and ended up losing by a significant margin. She would be the most senior in age president or vice-president in U.S. history if she were to win either seat in 2012.

Who else? No doubt there are other female GOP politicians around the country who, seeing the route Sarah Palin has taken, could easily be thinking, if she can do it, the way she’s doing it, why not me?  Throw out convention, throw out the rules of succession, or whatever has been set up in the past in terms of waiting one’s turn or finishing out terms, for that matter (Palin departed second terms as city council member and mayor, and now is departing her first term as governor).

26 thoughts on “[updatedx2] GOP’s White House 2012 ticket: Female-Female?

  1. Danielle, your comment seems so strident that maybe you missed the implied reality to which this post pays homage: of course Palin will be considered if she wants to be – but the fact is she continues to say that she doesn’t know what she’s going to do or if she’ll ever be in politics again. The women mentioned here are all active politicians. Palin is not. She is now a former VP candidate, a former governor, a former mayor and a former city council member.

    Thanks for reading and commenting.

  2. You Palin bashers that are stuck in this….”Anyone-but-her” frame of mind can spout as many names as you like, but the fact is, to win the presidency in this day in age requires a MOVEMENT. Unquenchable passion on the part of a candidate’s supporters. Not one of these woman could fill a pool hall on her best day. Sarah Palin is the only woman in the GOP with that undefinable, unabtainable “IT” factor that is essential. As much as you people would love to dismiss this, it is something that comes around once a generation.
    Obama has it and Palin has it, period. That said there ARE two and only two other possibilities in the foreseeable future. Rice and Liz Cheney. Beyond that ZIP.
    Hutchison? That is absolutely laughable.

  3. Interesting article. Now about strong Republican woman with leadership skills.

    Perhaps you heard about the nationwide effort in promoting Sec. of State Condi Rice to be on the 2008 ticket? She was listed in numerous national polls and was seen as a viable choice for president as well as vice-president. Did you know that according to Elisabeth Bumiller of the New York Times, who also wrote a book about Condi, that in the upcoming paperback edition, she will add a the news that Sen. McCain indeed met with Sec. Rice and wanted her as his VP.
    Now, many people have also asked, what would the McCain-Rice ticket have done for the GOP?
    Rice was also strong on 2nd Amendment rights, just like Sarah Palin.
    Rice was seen on the national stage as a contender for the White House.
    So, perhaps 2012 could be her year? It is all up to Condi now, she could snap her fingers and have a national movement once again to help her win the White House.
    That is, if she will do it.
    We all remember how Laura Bush wanted Condi to run, and that was a message carried around the world.

  4. Myopinion – I happen to agree with you. What you say recalls a time before the entire values thing and wedge issues became the way to strategize and personalize. When that happens, we completely lose sight of what’s best for ALL voters and Americans, which is really what gov’t is supposed to be about – not whose ideology is better. This is about finding solutions – a lot of politicians and the parties at their worst just completely forget that.

  5. Learn more about Linda Lingle of Hawaii. She is charismatic and focused. She needs national exposure but is the most polished and knowledgeable candidate on your list.

  6. If the Republican’s could just find a way to run a Pro-Choice candidate, it would totally change the game.

    Seriously- most Republican women I know use birth control and believe it should be available.
    I also know 2 that have made the “choice.”

    That said, if the whacky right of the GOP could be put aside- where else are they going to go? Also, the next generation of Republican voters care less about this issue.

    Republican’s could win by taking the most divisive issue in politics off of the table in favor of smaller government, capitalism and fiscal conservativeness.

    Would love to see a Conservative Dem or Moderate Republican woman win.
    Not sure about Palin but like the idea of Carly Fiorina, Meg Whitman or Kay Baily Hutchinson.

  7. Joe – I listed Granholm not as a possible presidential candidate, but as one of the remaining six female governors. You are, of course, correct about her ineligibility. Chris Cillizza does mention that disqualification in his discussion of this topic.

    Thanks for reading and noting that, though.

  8. Kevin – with Palin resigned, there are now 6 female governors out of 50. I get 12 percent re: 6 out of 50. Thanks for flagging that. My bad in the original, now fixed.

    FYI – I did look at the heads of the territories etc. – they appear to be all men.

  9. Just another FYI, Jennifer Granholm of Michigan is not eligible. She was born in Canada and while she is an American Citizen is constitutionally prohibited from running.

  10. The proportion of female governors is not just over 5%, it’s 14%. 7/50 is 14%. It’s still low but it’s double, almost triple what you cited.

  11. I would not mind a female-female ticket. Personally I think Palin-Whitman or Palin-Hutchison would be an excellent fit. Also, being a Washingtonian, I can whole heartedly say that this state is completely against Gov. Gregoire’s massive cuts in education and in the police force. She has not helped this state’s deficit of 6 Billion and my entire family, being mostly democratic, reget voting her back in.

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  15. Vote Palin-Romney 2012 for their rightwing conservatisim.

    In 2012 we must vote for Governor Sarah Palin to become our President and Governor Mitt Romney to become our Vice President starting on January 20, 2013 , because of Governor Sarah Palin’s and Governor Mitt Romney’s superior right wing conservative philosophy. Governor Sarah Palin’s and Governor Mitt Romney’s superior right wing philosophy is shown in that they are pro God and Christianity, pro life, pro marriage; pro guns-second amendment, pro low taxes, pro low government spending; pro small government, pro unintrusive government, pro traditional and Judeo Christian values; pro Bible reading and prayer in our public schools, pro Christians schools and private education , pro private and free enterprise; pro military spending, anti arms agreements with Russia, pro creation; pro nuclear, pro conservative supreme court judges, pro American sovereignty; pro capitalism, anti communist, anti socialist; conservative on immigration, and pro constitution

  16. Thanks for reading and commenting, Eric. I may very well do a Dems list. I would only say that with the Dems, I sense the bench is far, far deeper but the political party structure still may be a huge impediment. That is, after all, who many Clinton supporters blame for her not getting the nomination.

  17. I enjoyed reading the piece and it’s great to see you pay attention to possible future national candidates, particularly women. I hope you’ll soon focus on Dems. I know Gov. Gregoire from working with her on the states’ tobacco litigation a decade ago, and I have great respect for her talent and strength.

  18. Jill, I think the name you want for the Governor of Washington is Christine Gregoire, not Perdue.

  19. great piece, but just FYI, Napolitano was replaced by a woman – female GOP Sec. of State Jan Brewer.

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