Republicans Don’t Have a Single Woman Running a Battleground Senate Campaign

GOP operatives accuse the party of pushing its female staffers away from leadership paths offered to men.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) (2nd-R) speaks to the media while flanked by U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-SD) (L), U.S. Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) (2nd-L), U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS) (3rd-L), and U.S. Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX)(3rd-L), on November 14, 2012 in Washington, DC. The Senators spoke briefly to reporters after attending a policy luncheon.
National Journal
Alex Roarty
Jan. 26, 2014, 9:42 a.m.

Re­pub­lic­an can­did­ates want to do bet­ter with wo­men voters. The people run­ning their cam­paigns might make that more dif­fi­cult.

The po­s­i­tion of cam­paign man­ager is the top job in any run for of­fice, the per­son who — be­sides the can­did­ate — is re­spons­ible for all the cam­paigns’ activ­it­ies. Yet a Na­tion­al Journ­al sur­vey of the key Sen­ate races of 2014 found that only two out of 33 GOP cam­paigns had fe­male cam­paign man­agers. In states ex­pec­ted to fea­ture the most com­pet­it­ive gen­er­al-elec­tion races, the dis­par­ity is even worse: Re­pub­lic­ans have zero wo­men run­ning cam­paigns.

Cam­paign man­agers aren’t the end-all, do-all, be-all of cam­paigns ““ con­sult­ants and oth­er ad­visers of­ten play a big­ger role in craft­ing a can­did­ate’s mes­sage and agenda. But the paucity of wo­men in the top spot has raised fears the party is still ill-equipped to reach wo­men in 2014. Among some fe­male Re­pub­lic­an op­er­at­ives, the frus­tra­tion is palp­able.

“What is dis­turb­ing to me is there are not enough seni­or-level wo­men across the board,” said Katie Pack­er Gage, a former deputy cam­paign man­ager for Mitt Rom­ney who last year es­tab­lished a con­sult­ing firm to help Re­pub­lic­an can­did­ates talk to fe­male voters. “If you don’t have a per­son in that spot, then you need to make sure you have that role in your con­sult­ing firm, or mak­ing your ads. You have to have that voice and it’s not enough to have the can­did­ate’s spouse play­ing that role.”

“You need to have strong wo­men that can ad­voc­ate for a dif­fer­ent way of look­ing at things,” she ad­ded. “I feel like that is miss­ing.”

GOP of­fi­cials strongly dis­agree, con­tend­ing that wo­men hold a pleth­ora of crit­ic­al posts on im­port­ant cam­paigns. They ar­gue that Demo­crat­ic staffers are over­whelm­ingly male, point­ing spe­cific­ally to a lack of wo­men in lead­er­ship jobs in Pres­id­ent Obama’s White House and his re-elec­tion cam­paign. (Re­pub­lic­an of­fi­cials did not draw a com­par­is­on with staff on Demo­crat­ic Sen­ate cam­paigns.)

“If you look at any sub­jects through a nar­row enough lens, Demo­crats can come to any con­clu­sion they want,” said Brook Hougesen, a spokes­wo­man for the Na­tion­al Re­pub­lic­an Sen­at­ori­al Com­mit­tee. “It’s ut­terly false to say that any cam­paign man­ager, male or fe­male, has uni­ver­sal con­trol of mes­saging on any cam­paign. There are can­did­ates, poll­sters, and spouses. To dis­count these vi­tal fe­male mem­bers is just of­fens­ive.”

But in the battle for the Sen­ate ma­jor­ity, only two GOP cam­paigns have wo­men in charge, and one of them is a tea party in­sur­gent run­ning against a sit­ting Re­pub­lic­an sen­at­or backed by the NR­SC. In Mis­sis­sippi, Melanie So­journ­er runs state Sen. Chris McDaniel’s in­sur­gent ef­fort against Sen. Thad Co­chran, while in Ten­ness­ee, Alice Rolli heads up Lamar Al­ex­an­der’s re-elec­tion cam­paign. Neither will face a vi­able Demo­crat­ic op­pon­ent in the fall.

By con­trast, more than a third of the Demo­crat­ic cam­paigns in key Sen­ate races are led by fe­male cam­paign man­agers ““ five out of 13 cam­paigns sur­veyed by Na­tion­al Journ­al. And all five are po­si­tioned in states likely to fea­ture a mar­quee battle in the fall: Nat­alie Ten­nant’s race in West Vir­gin­ia, Sen. Mark Be­gich’s in Alaska, John Walsh’s in Montana, Rep. Bruce Bra­ley’s in Iowa, and Gary Peters in Michigan.

It’s in gen­er­al elec­tions, where their can­did­ates face off against Demo­crats that Re­pub­lic­ans most struggle to con­nect with fe­male voters. Led by Demo­crat­ic ac­cus­a­tions the GOP was wa­ging a “war on wo­men,” Re­pub­lic­ans suffered a huge gender gap in re­cent elec­tions: In 2012, Pres­id­ent Obama won 55 per­cent of the fe­male vote against Rom­ney.

Voters won’t care if cam­paigns don’t have fe­male staffers. But GOP strategists worry cam­paigns that make ma­jor de­cisions ““ like the craft­ing of TV ad­vert­ise­ments ““ without the guid­ance of fe­male op­er­at­ives risk ham-handed mes­sages that can re­pel the very voters they’re try­ing to at­tract.

For a party whose own re­cent his­tory is re­plete with re­marks per­ceived as in­sens­it­ive to wo­men, it’s an anxi­ety felt acutely. The most re­cent ex­ample came last week when former pres­id­en­tial can­did­ate Mike Hucka­bee talked about wo­men’s “li­bidos.” He was try­ing to sug­gest Demo­crats be­lieve wo­men are “help­less” and want to make them de­pend­ent on the gov­ern­ment for birth con­trol, but whatever sub­stant­ive point in­ten­ded was lost in the at­ten­tion garnered by the words he chose.

“It’s really im­port­ant to have a lot of voices at the table, es­pe­cially when wo­men make up a ma­jor­ity of voters,” said Kristen Solt­is An­der­son, a GOP poll­ster work­ing with Min­nesota Re­pub­lic­an Sen­ate can­did­ate Mike Mc­Fad­den.

Oth­er fe­male con­sult­ants are more caustic in their as­sess­ment of the party and its cam­paign man­age­ment cul­ture. Kim Al­fano, a Re­pub­lic­an strategist who has worked with former In­di­ana Gov. Mitch Daniels and Iowa Gov. Terry Bran­stad, blamed a frat-boy cul­ture at the NR­SC and oth­er top GOP firms for ali­en­at­ing wo­men. She called the last Sen­ate cam­paign she worked on, Dick Lugar’s los­ing ef­fort in a 2012 primary, “the worst ex­per­i­ence of my life.”

“The sen­at­ori­al com­mit­tee has been no­tori­ously hack­ish,” she said. “They’re all 30-something, maybe mar­ried but maybe un-mar­ried guys. And they ba­sic­ally want to roll in­to town, kill your op­pon­ent for you, and roll out of town. And it hasn’t been a good mod­el for them.”

The NR­SC fired back at Al­fano’s ac­cus­a­tion. “The NR­SC has one clearly defined goal ““ win­ning the ma­jor­ity ““ and no or­gan­iz­a­tion will dis­tract us from that mis­sion,” said Hougesen. “Al­though the com­mit­tee is not fa­mil­i­ar with Ms. Al­fano, we wish her noth­ing but the best.”

Hougesen said half of the group’s staff this cycle are wo­men and that the com­mit­tee was “proud to have worked with our can­did­ates to se­cure the best tal­ent avail­able, in­clud­ing many hard­work­ing wo­men.”

But some Re­pub­lic­an primar­ies, des­pite fea­tur­ing a hand­ful of con­tenders, don’t have a single fe­male cam­paign man­ager. In Geor­gia, for in­stance, the top five hope­fuls ““ Reps. Jack King­ston, Paul Broun, and Phil Gin­grey, wealthy busi­ness Dav­id Per­due, and former Sec­ret­ary of State Kar­en Han­del ““ each have a male cam­paign man­ager. The same is true in Iowa, where none of the four strongest can­did­ates ““ busi­ness­man Mark Jac­obs, state Sen. Joni Ernst, talk ra­dio host Sam Clo­vis, and ex-U.S. At­tor­ney Matt Whi­taker ““ have a fe­male cam­paign man­ager.

“If that room where de­cisions are made is chock full of men mak­ing these mes­saging de­cisions, that’s prob­lem­at­ic, even if you have a fe­male me­dia per­son,” said Craig Robin­son, former polit­ic­al dir­ect­or for the Iowa Re­pub­lic­an Party. “You need a wide per­spect­ive when you’re talk­ing about those de­cisions. Maybe this is one of the reas­ons why Re­pub­lic­ans do really struggle talk­ing with wo­men.”

There’s a per­cep­tion among Re­pub­lic­ans that Demo­crats simply do a bet­ter job re­cruit­ing, train­ing, and re­tain­ing tal­en­ted op­er­at­ives who can serve as cam­paign man­agers on big-time Sen­ate races. The data seem to back that up: Pro­gress­ive polit­ic­al firm New Or­gan­iz­ing In­sti­tute crunched num­bers from Fed­er­al Elec­tion Com­mis­sion re­ports and found that 39.8 per­cent of Re­pub­lic­an staffers on 2012 cam­paigns were wo­men com­pared with the 46.4 per­cent of staff on Demo­crat­ic cam­paigns who were wo­men.

Many Re­pub­lic­ans don’t blame overt sex­ism for the lack of fe­male rep­res­ent­a­tion in GOP cam­paigns. The prob­lems start well be­fore those de­cisions are made, when ju­ni­or-level wo­men aren’t cul­tiv­ated to learn and ap­ply for polit­ic­al- and ex­ec­ut­ive-level po­s­i­tions. One Re­pub­lic­an in­volved in the pro­cess, gran­ted an­onym­ity to speak can­didly, said many young wo­men are of­ten “shuffled” in­to the com­mu­nic­a­tions and fin­ance de­part­ments. Those are im­port­ant jobs, GOP op­er­at­ives say, but they of­ten aren’t the ones mak­ing fi­nal de­cisions.

“In the same way that we are really fo­cused on a build­ing a strong bench of fe­male can­did­ates “… that has to hap­pen on the cam­paign side,” said the poll­ster Solt­is An­der­son. “Let’s make sure we have lots of wo­men in the ju­ni­or staff rolls but that they are offered an op­por­tun­ity to move up. So when cam­paigns go look­ing for cam­paign man­agers, they’re get­ting a pile of re­sumes.”

The Re­pub­lic­an cam­paigns sur­veyed by Na­tion­al Journ­al are:

1. Dan Sul­li­van, Alaska

2. Mead Tread­well, Alaska

3. Tom Cot­ton, Arkan­sas

4. Ken Buck, Col­or­ado

5. Jack King­ston, Geor­gia

6. Phil Gin­grey, Geor­gia

7. Paul Broun, Geor­gia

8.Dav­id Per­due, Geor­gia

9. Kar­en Han­del, Geor­gia

10. Mark Jac­obs, Iowa

11. Matt Whi­taker, Iowa

12. Sam Clo­vis, Iowa

13. Joni Ernst, Iowa

14. Pat Roberts, Kan­sas

15. Mitch Mc­Con­nell, Ken­tucky

16. Bill Cas­sidy, Louisi­ana

17. Terri Lynn Land, Michigan

18. Mike Mc­Fad­den, Min­nesota

19. Ju­li­anne Ort­man, Min­nesota

20. Thad Co­chran, Mis­sis­sippi

21. Chris McDaniel, Mis­sis­sippi (run by Melanie So­journ­er)

22. Steve Daines, Montana

23. Ben Sas­se, Neb­raska

24. Shane Os­born, Neb­raska

25. Thom Tillis, North Car­o­lina

26. Greg Bran­non, North Car­o­lina

27. Mark Har­ris, North Car­o­lina

28. Lind­sey Gra­ham, South Car­o­lina

29. Mike Rounds, South Dakota

30. Lamar Al­ex­an­der, Ten­ness­ee (run by Alice Rolli)

31. John Cornyn, Texas

32. Ed Gillespie, Vir­gin­ia

33. Shel­ley Moore Capito, West Vir­gin­ia

What We're Following See More »
PEAK CONFIDENCE
Clinton No Longer Running Primary Ads
1 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

In a sign that she’s ready to put a longer-than-ex­pec­ted primary battle be­hind her, former Sec­ret­ary of State Hil­lary Clin­ton (D) is no longer go­ing on the air in up­com­ing primary states. “Team Clin­ton hasn’t spent a single cent in … Cali­for­nia, In­di­ana, Ken­tucky, Ore­gon and West Vir­gin­ia, while” Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) “cam­paign has spent a little more than $1 mil­lion in those same states.” Meanwhile, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sanders’ "lone back­er in the Sen­ate, said the can­did­ate should end his pres­id­en­tial cam­paign if he’s los­ing to Hil­lary Clin­ton after the primary sea­son con­cludes in June, break­ing sharply with the can­did­ate who is vow­ing to take his in­sur­gent bid to the party con­ven­tion in Phil­adelphia.”

Source:
CITIZENS UNITED PT. 2?
Movie Based on ‘Clinton Cash’ to Debut at Cannes
3 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

The team behind the bestselling "Clinton Cash"—author Peter Schweizer and Breitbart's Stephen Bannon—is turning the book into a movie that will have its U.S. premiere just before the Democratic National Convention this summer. The film will get its global debut "next month in Cannes, France, during the Cannes Film Festival. (The movie is not a part of the festival, but will be shown at a screening arranged for distributors)." Bloomberg has a trailer up, pointing out that it's "less Ken Burns than Jerry Bruckheimer, featuring blood-drenched money, radical madrassas, and ominous footage of the Clintons."

Source:
INFLUENTIAL APPROPRIATOR
Former Sen. Conrad Burns Dies in Montana
3 hours ago
THE DETAILS

Conrad Burns, the colorful livestock auctioneer and radio executive from Montana who served three terms as a senator, died on Thursday at age 81. Burns "was ousted from office in 2006 under the specter of scandal after developing close ties to "super-lobbyist" Jack Abramoff," although no charges were ever filed.

Source:
BETTING ON CARS
Biden Goes Max Biden at the Vatican
3 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

In an exchange not ripped from the page of The Onion, Vice President Biden revealed to a Vatican cardinal that he's been betting reporters on which cars are faster. After meeting privately with Pope Francis, Biden met with Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican Secretary of State. Within moments of greeting one another, Biden said that he'd met with the pope and, gesturing to the press pool, "I've met with these guys too." Singling out reporter Gardiner Harris, who recounted the exchange, he said, "I had to pay this man $10. He's from the New York Times. We had a bet: which is the faster car, the newer Cadillac or the new [Tesla]. ... The Tesla's two tenths of a second faster. But I lost. I paid my $10." He joked that he's "seeking absolution."

17 ARRESTED
Trump’s First California Rally Turns Ugly
5 hours ago
THE LATEST

Donald Trump held his first rally in California Thursday night, and things were chaotic: "Hundreds of demonstrators filled the street outside the Orange County amphitheater where ... stomping on cars, hurling rocks at motorists and forcefully declaring their opposition to the Republican presidential candidate. Traffic came to a halt as a boisterous crowd walked in the roadway, some waving American and Mexican flags. Protesters smashed a window on at least one police cruiser, punctured the tires of a police sport utility vehicle, and at one point tried to flip a police car."

Source:
×