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"Women Can't Win"

"Women Can't Win"

After a year that saw the Women's March, the decades-old #MeToo movement go mainstream, and a host of ousters across industries in 2017, I still hear Coloradans hedge their bets on potential candidates with a familiar refrain: "With things the way they are right now, women can't win." It is a paradox: as women find their voices to speak out, the mountain of adversity women face becomes impossible to ignore ... and ominous to confront. How can women rise to high office when they must be elected by a society seemingly saturated with sexism and misogyny?

Colorado has never had a Governor who wasn't a man. From a practical standpoint, does that mean it is too soon for a woman to claim our highest statewide office? Is it long overdue? Both? Neither? Or is this the time?

Let's look at the current field of gubernatorial candidates for 2018. I am including all of the candidates listed as "active" on the Secretary of State's TRACER website, including at least one who has announced withdrawal from the race, so get ready to scroll:

  1. BARLOCK, STEPHEN (R)
  2. BELLAMY, VÉRONIQUE (Green)
  3. BLANCHARD, RENEE (D)
  4. BRAUCHLER, GEORGE (R)
  5. CANTRELL, GEORGE (American Constitution)
  6. COFFMAN, CYNTHIA (R)
  7. CUNNINGHAM, KATHLEEN (U)
  8. FRENCH, JOHN (U)
  9. GAITER, LEW (R)
  10. GARRITY, ADAM (D)
  11. GINSBURG, NOEL (D)
  12. HAMMONS, WILLIAM (Unity)
  13. HELKER, SCOTT (Libertarian)
  14. HUMES, MOSES (D)
  15. JOHNSTON, MICHAEL (D)
  16. KEAR, TERI (R)
  17. KENNEDY, CARY (D)
  18. LOPEZ, GREG (R)
  19. LYNNE, DONNA (D)
  20. MITCHELL, VICTOR (R)
  21. OSADA, RICHARD (U)
  22. PERKINS, DIANNA (U)
  23. POLIS, JARED (D)
  24. ROBINSON, DOUG (R)
  25. RUNDBERG, JIM (R)
  26. SCHROEDER, MICHAEL (D)
  27. STAPLETON, WALKER (R)
  28. STARKEY, KOREY (U)
  29. TANCREDO, THOMAS (R)
  30. UNDERWOOD, ERIK (D)
  31. WILBOURN, MICHAEL (U)
  32. WOOD, MATTHEW (U)

After pausing to appreciate that this is truly a preponderance of candidates from major parties as well as other parties and unaffiliated candidates, let's take a look at those who have won statewide elections in Colorado in the past. They are:

  1. COFFMAN, CYNTHIA (R), who was elected to the office of Colorado Attorney General in 2014
  2. KENNEDY, CARY (D), who was elected to the office of Colorado Treasurer in 2006
  3. POLIS, JARED (D), who was elected to the now nonexistent at-large seat on the Colorado Board of Education in 2000
  4. STAPLETON, WALKER (R), who was elected Colorado Treasurer in 2010

To be clear, this is not a statement about experience. This is data about candidates who have demonstrated statewide appeal in Colorado by winning elections. These four split equally not only by gender but also by party.

I've focused here on this year's Gubernatorial candidates, but women have won statewide elections in Colorado for decades. In 1986, Gail Schoettler was elected Colorado State Treasurer and continued on to become the 44th Lieutenant Governor of Colorado. Nancy Dick served as Lieutenant Governor of Colorado starting in 1979. So regardless of gender, may the best candidate win—and garner support despite the challenges they face.

Seasonal Days of Action!

Seasonal Days of Action!

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