State Elections Boost Women Candidates
By Greg McDonald, Senior Writer
State primary elections Tuesday gave a big boost to women candidates, raising the possibility Michigan could get its first female governor come November. But voters in at least two states rejected new tax initiatives and the candidates pushing them.
But voters in at least two states rejected new tax initiatives and the candidates pushing them.
In Michigan's primary, Democrat Jennifer Granholm beat out two strong challengers to win the right to face off in the general election against Republican Lt. Gov. Dick Posthumus, who easily won his party's nomination for govenor. Granholm, the state attorney general, is the first woman ever to be nominated for governor of Michigan.
In Kansas, meanwhile, Insurance Commissioner Kathleen Sebelius officially became that state's Democratic nominee for governor. She was running unopposed, and will meet Tim Shallenburger, who handily won the GOP nomination over three other contenders. If she wins, she would be the state's second female governor. Joan Finney was the state's first, serving from 1991 through 1995.
Before Tuesday's primaries, polls showed both Granholm and Sebelius running ahead of all Republican candidates. Though hardly a predictor of the final outcome in November, the polls do give women some cause for hope that this fall's elections could produce a record number of female governors. There are at least a dozen women running for their state's chief executive position across the country. And with 20 open seats up for grabs in 36 gubernatorial elections, the odds are that some of them will end up in the hands of women, who already hold five of the nation's governorships.
While the Michigan and Kansas primaries may signal good things to come for women candidates, elections in Missouri and Virginia appeared to close out some of the options they may need to address budget and other problems if elected.
Voters in Missouri soundly defeated a gas and sales tax initiative that would have raised a half billion dollars per year to help fund much-needed transportation programs.
The measure, known as Proposition B, was defeated by a 3-1 margin, prompting Gov. Bob Holden to observe that the state would have to come up with "a better answer" to deal with the problem than hitting people in their "pocketbooks" at a time when they are already uneasy about the economy.
Northern Virginians also seemed to share that view. They defeated a Democratic candidate for state Senate who was pushing a new tax initiative aimed at relieving suburban congestion around the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. The race for the 37th Senate District was won by Republican Ken Cuccinelli, who coupled his opposition to the tax initiative with his opposition to abortion, to win 55 percent of the vote. Cuccinelli told reporters that it was his no-tax campaign that made the difference with voters because of fears about the economy.
But Gov. Mark Warner, who has also been pushing the tax initiative, said he believed Cuccinelli's victory was not reflective of the overall views of the entire North Virginia community bordering the nation's capital.