How OH State Senate President Harris, ORP screwing up royally

For more than a year, maybe it’s even two years now, I’ve been hawking about the failure of the Ohio Republican Party, in particular, to keep the pump primed with GOP women.  The Plain Dealer let Bill Harris get away with saying that it’s the fault of term limits, and didn’t press further.

I’ve received first-hand stories about the abject failure and sexism going on in the GOP vis a vis women entering politics and tonight, I suggest your read this fairly lengthy article from Politico, Republican Women: A minority in a minority.


The problem isn’t new; former Rep. Marilyn Musgrave (R-Colo.) remembers being struck that no Republican women were on stage while President George W. Bush signed a ban on partial-birth abortions in 2003. “I looked at the stage and said, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me,’” said Musgrave, who was sitting in the audience. 

And from Maine’s Olympia Snowe, one of just four female GOP senators:

Snowe says there’s also a political dimension. As the Republican Party sheds moderates, it also sheds women.

“[We] as a party are saying we’re not supporting Republican moderates. That’s a terrible message to send,” said Snowe, who with her Maine counterpart Susan Collins represents 50 percent of the Republican women in the Senate. “It tells everyone else in America who might have an interest in running as a Republican moderate, they’re going to have to think twice. The messages coming out of the national party are critical. They’ve got to be embracive and inclusive of political diversity. They can’t on one hand say we’re going to build a majority and then say we only want people with certain characteristics, like white males from the South. That’s a concern to me.”

And finally, about that pipeline:

Leadership has taken notice. The Republican National Committee says a critical first step is to be more all-inclusive when recruiting and training women. It says its Women’s Coalition is making an early push to identify women for 2010 as part of its 50-state plan.

“Part of our goal is to dramatically increase the number of Republican women running for office,” said Republican National Committee Co-Chairwoman Jan Larimer. “Chairman [Michael] Steele and I agree that we must redouble our efforts to build a strong grass-roots organization that encourages participation by every Republican in every state and territory.”

But the pool is shallow. State legislatures, which often serve as feeders for Congress, are also seeing fewer Republican women step up to the plate. Meanwhile, Democratic training outlets such EMILY’s List have been well-organized and highly successful at recruiting, while anti-abortion Republican womens’ groups, such as the National Federation of Republican Women and the Wish List, say they are bracing for another tough election cycle.

My emphasis, and the part that most heavily implicates failure on the part of Harris and the ORP: there is just one female state GOP senator out of 21 GOP state senators.  One.  Out of 21. (Democrats are five out of 11.)

Sigh. I gotta tell ya, the next thing, what the article concludes with?  Doesn’t make me feel too positive either:

(U.S. House Rep. Cathy) McMorris Rodgers, who is helping lead the NRCC’s candidate recruitment team, says she’s bringing in groups of women from different regions of the country for tours of Capitol Hill in the hopes of getting some to run.

Honey, honey, honey – groups of women, brought in for tours of Capitol Hill, in the hopes of getting some to run?  Hello? What exactly is the connection?  They see a nice marble edifice, filled with white Southern GOP men and think…what exactly? I want to go THERE!


Seriously, if that’s the best you can do, well, I’m just not sure you or anyone in the GOP has any real interest in fiscally conservative women or socially conservative women or women who might be both getting involved in politics.  Seems to me it’s all just like Rush Limbaugh’s Women’s Summit – it wasn’t about listening to women’s voices and thoughts, it was about telling women what the men say the women should be thinking about.

Challenge me – please – show me where this is not the case.  Because I’ve got a lot of friends who are brilliant and conservative. What is the problem with appealing and empowering them?

Probably that power part, huh?


4 thoughts on “How OH State Senate President Harris, ORP screwing up royally

  1. Jan Larimer probably isn’t the right person to be talking about recruiting female candidates. Via Steve Benen at Washington Monthly:

    “Women sometimes need a little more handholding, or they need their friends to help them make a decision. And by our going in and talking to them and recruiting and educating and training them to either get involved in a campaign or become a candidate, we’re giving them the tools so that they can do that on their own,” Larimer added.”

    Benen also quotes Rush Limbaugh, on Fox: “I’m a huge supporter of women … I don’t know where all this got started. I love the women’s movement — especially when walking behind it.”

  2. Good story. I was startled to realize myself recently that the Republican congressional delegation has about a third as many women as the Democratic one — and the percentage of women in congress is shockingly low to begin with.

    BTW there’s a typo in the article you quote. The Wish List is not anti-abortion; it’s a group for pro-choice Republican women which I’ve found encompasses a lot of grassroots Republican women such as my former college roommate. But it won’t get them anywhere in today’s litmus-tested Republican party.

  3. Pingback: Trifecta of stories re: dearth of GOP female officeholders (OH’s Pryce included) : Writes Like She Talks

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