In 1992, four women won election to the US Senate, all Democrats, including newcomers Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein from California (Feinstein won a special election). The others were Patty Murray of Washington and Carol Mosely Braun of Illinois. The press dubbed 1992 the Year of the Woman and celebrated the sudden success of female candidates.
Will they remember 2010 the same way if Republican women win like they did in yesterday’s big primaries? Andrew Malcolm totes up the scorecard:
The former head of Hewlett-Packard, Fiorina took 55% of the vote to beat out former GOP Rep.Tom Campbell (23%) and state Assemblyman Chuck DeVore (18%) after trailing Campbell in early spring.
Speaking of Republican businesswomen, former EBay CEO Meg Whitman (above, waving) easily won (64%) the Republican Party’s nomination for governor over state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner (27%). She’s spent many millions of her personal fortune and will need to invest many more against Jerry Brown, a Democrat who at 72 is even older than Boxer. …
Next door in Nevada, two more women struggled for a Republican Senate nomination. Former Republican state party chair and establishment favorite Sue Lowden was dumped in the primary by Sharron Angle, a surging conservative “tea party” advocate. …
In South Carolina, state legislator Nikki Haley (left), another former businesswoman (hmmm, another theme?), won the Republican gubernatorial primary with “tea party” support to succeed the Appalachian Trail’s most famous smitten non-hiker, incumbent Republican Gov. Mark Sanford. … However, Haley came up just 1% shy of the necessary 50% party vote. So on June 22 she will confront Rep. Gresham Barrett in a runoff. He captured less than half her vote Tuesday. The Democrats have Vince Sheheen as their gubernatorial nominee.
Why so many women in the GOP? One has to give at least some credit to the Tea Parties. In my experience with the activists behind Tea Party events, most have been women who have become determined to steer the course of the American political agenda back to the Right. The two national politicians most associated with the Tea Party movement? Powerful Republican women: Sarah Palin and Rep. Michele Bachmann (MN).
That is especially true in Nevada and South Carolina, where Tea Party activism elevated the candidates. It may be less true in California, where Meg Whitman was not especially beloved of conservative grassroots, and where Chuck DeVore got more Tea Party support than Carly Fiorina. In both California races, though, the nominees will benefit from continued Tea Party activism.
Assuming these Republican women triumph in November, don’t expect the media to fawn over them the way they did in 1992 with the Democrats. Besides overcoming the natural liberal bias we see throughout much of the national press, it would also require the media to give Palin and Bachmann some credit, which will happen when global cooling hits Hell. But in this case, assuming the Tea Party triumphs, the label may be even more appropriate than in 1992.
Update: Jim Geraghty is on the same page.
Update II: Sister Toldjah says NPR gets it.