PA ranks notably low relative to other states on female representation in state politics, and in federal politics Allyson Schwartz is the only woman representative in our state’s delegation from either party.
Now that she’s vacating her seat to run for Governor, the odds are disturbingly high that PA will have an all-male House delegation in the 2015-16 session.
I know some brogressives secretly (or not so secretly) think liberal men can do just as good a job of representing women’s economic interests as actual woman legislators, but obviously that’s wrong. This would be a serious problem that should not be put in a “social issues” box. Women’s experience of life in Pennsylvania is different than men’s experience, and those experiences bear heavily on a lawmaker’s issue positions, and her sense of what counts as an important problem deserving of a public policy response.
In the 13th District – the most winnable for Democrats – I am a big fan of Daylin Leach. I think he is an iconoclastic politician capable of drawing on a national fundraising base and eventually creating an alternative progressive power structure in SEPA to displace the Bob Brady/Johnny Doc axis. This is why I am supporting Daylin over Val Arkoosh for this seat, even though I like Val very much.
But this means that to avoid the all-male House delegation scenario, it’s going to be crucial to proactively support and campaign for the other Democratic women candidates running in the 2014 cycle – Shaughnessy Naughton in the 8th District, and Erin McClelland in the 12th district.
In the 8th District, both candidates are pretty equally progressive and both are first-time candidates. I see absolutely no reason to think that Kevin Strouse is a stronger candidate than Shaughnessy, and believe the people who say he has a better chance than her are relying on an outdated archetype of a successful political candidate as a white man. In truth, woman candidates run no worse than men at the polls. Shaughnessy’s experience is just as compelling as Strouse’s, if not more, and she will be better positioned to make Mike Fitzpatrick own his War on Women votes in socially-liberal Southeast PA.
In the 12th District, even though Erin McClelland’s career experience initially struck Jake S. as not a great fit for the district, she has proven herself to be a very smart and impressive politician and communicator who, with sufficient money, will be able to inflict some real battle damage on millionaire Keith Rothfus’s fake “regular guy” persona.
We need to support these women. I will be working to promote them in 2014, and will continue to encourage you all to donate money and commit volunteer time to them, because even though the gerrymandered Republican map tilts against us, we can still turn these into competitive races with well-funded high-energy anti-tea party campaigns.