National reporters Irin Carmon, Meredith Clark, and Suzy Khimm answered reader questions Sunday about the role women candidates will play in the 2014 election. The Q&A is part of msnbc’s ongoing Women and 2014 coverage. join in and let us know your biggest questions!
Question from Gabriela Resto-Montero: What factors do all of you think are playing a role in pushing more women to run for public office?
Suzy Khimm: Both parties are making a concerted effort to recruit female candidates, and the growing number of women holding office may encourage others to run. I also think you’ll see more female candidate as they rise to leadership roles in traditionally male industries – e.g. Carly Fiorina, the former CEO of Hewlett-Packard who ran for Senate in California in 2010. Georgia Senate candidate Michelle Nunn comes from a famous political family, but she’s also running on her own successful career as a non-profit executive.
Irin Carmon: Part of Senator Patty Murray’s strategy in 2012 was recruiting women to run for Senate, which ended up making a big difference in Democrats keeping the Senate. (Claire McCaskill versus Todd Akin, anyone?). At a point when Republicans are on the defensive for how they talk to and about women, that gives Democrats an opening to point to their female leadership and seek to increase its ranks.
Meredith Clark: Adding to what Suzy said, seeing examples of successful women in politics is definitely necessary, and both parties are smart to be recruiting more women, but those efforts have to stretch all the way to the most local elections to really bear fruit. State Senator Nina Turner is a great example of success that began at a local level and is building over time. The parties will have to remain invested.
Question from Jamil Smith: How do you see voter suppression issues specifically affecting women, particularly in 2014’s races?
Meredith Clark: Women are more likely to have an ID that does not match a birth certificate or original social security cards due to name changes. Working mothers with busy schedules could also be discouraged from voting if there are long lines at polling locations.
Irin Carmon: As our colleague Zack Roth reported Wendy Davis herself had some trouble voting in Texas because the name on her driver’s license didn’t match the name on the voter rolls. Thanks to her own amendment of the law, she was able to vote by affidavit. But as she said then, “Unfortunately, it has a disproportionate impact on the poor, and unfortunately the poor are disproportionately minority in Texas.” And women are disproportionately poor. Elderly women are particularly impacted by voter ID laws; Zack also wrote about Rosanell Eaton, the plaintiff in a voter ID challenge in North Carolina (http://www.msnbc.com/the-last-word/black-residents-north-carolina-fear-l…) who prevailed through Jim Crow but at 92, finds her right to vote being threatened by the law.
Question from nyfeds: I’d love to see Nina Turner of Ohio make some significant moves up the political ladder. Any thoughts on some higher aspirations for her?
Irin Carmon: We totally agree, Nina Turner is a force of nature. She has said that statewide office is the key to moving forward a progressive agenda: “In these states, the districts are rigged to such an extent that it may be nearly impossible to win any of those [legislative and congressional] districts that are extreme. We’ve got to do it by taking back the statewide offices. That is my recommendation to people here in the state of Ohio.” Secretary of State has been a stepping stone to governor before… we shall see.
Question from El Surfeador: If states succeed in blocking abortions, the amount of medical problems (and deaths) from illegal procedures will increase. What could the reaction to this be?
Irin Carmon: This is already happening in some places, notably the Rio Grande Valley, where clinics have been shuttered because of Texas’s latest abortion restriction. One clinic owner told me that women are showing up with signs of having self-induced a miscarriage and needing care. And a local doctor told Al Jazeera, ”I hope our politicians are made aware of how many girls are self-aborting in the Rio Grande Valley. This law is backfiring.” If people start to see what happens when abortion is illegal—women still get abortions, they just do so less safely—that may change their views on whether these restrictions go too far.
Kobes84: We’re aware of some of the female candidates running in 2014, but are there any women behind the scenes (campaign managers, political operatives, etc.) that we should be following?
Suzy Khimm: Absolutely. On the Democratic side, they include Patti Solis Doyle, a Hilaryland veteran; Democratic strategist Donna Brazile; pollster Celinda Lake; and Stephanie Cutter. On the Republican side: former Romney 2012 spokeswoman Andrea Saul; Mindy Finn, a leading digital strategist; and pollster Kristen Soltis Anderson, who’s an expert on the youth vote.