I think I am seeing a pattern develop here. I hadn’t really thought of it until Barack Obama called Channel 7 News reporter Peggy Agar “sweetie” during a campaign stop in Sterling Heights. I was surprised that someone as polished and politically correct as Obama would say something like that. During my run for Congress in 2006 I was always very careful to watch what I said or wrote. I knew that any slip up, no matter how small, could have been taken out of context and used against me. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that the Democrats seem to have little respect for women. No, I am not talking about a long list of Democrat men including Eliot Spitzer, Bill Clinton or Gary Hart. I am looking at the treatment of two female Democrats here in Michigan.
There were two Congressional races that occurred in the 2006 election cycle here in Michigan that immediately came to my mind. The first was the race between Sharon Renier and Tim Walberg in the 7th district. Renier lost to Walberg by less that ten thousand votes and garnered 46% of the total vote. Not too bad for a very liberal Democrat with no political experience. Similarly, the contest in the 9th district was quite interesting. Nancy Skinner was also able to muster 46% of the vote against Joe Knollenberg. Skinner had an even tougher race running against an entrenched incumbent, but still almost managed to pull it off.
What is even more amazing is the fact that these two women almost won their respective races with relatively little money. Renier raised $55,682 compared to Walberg’s whopping $1.2 million and Skinner raised $407,382 to compete with Knollenberg’s stunning $2.6 Million war chest. Donors to these ladies campaigns should be impressed with the return on their investment.
So you would think that they would be the logical choice to run again in 2008 right? They have the name recognition and have demonstrated that, with a few adjustments to their campaigns, they can realistically win their races. Well, think again. The Michigan Democrats have decided to run a man in each of those districts. Gary Peters, A former state senator and Michigan Lottery Commissioner, was chosen to run against Joe Knollenberg and current state senator Mark Schauer was tapped to take on Tim Walberg. They let the women do the heavy lifting in 2006, take the bruising on the campaign trail, demonstrate the vulnerability of these districts and then said “now move out of the way girls while the boys get down to business.” Now, I am not a person that cries sexism very often, but I think these situations deserve a second look. The Michigan Democratic Party did not hesitate to shove these women to the side when they discovered they could actually win in these races and they chose two men to potentially take the seats in Congress. With a smack on the fanny they said “Thanks sweetie, we’ll take it from here” (wink).
Hillary Clinton has been lamenting the fact that sexism is running rampant in this election cycle. Maybe she is on to something after all.
Chad Miles was the 2006 Republican candidate in Michigan’s 14th Congressional District and is a veteran of the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division. He is a technology consultant and holds a degree in political science from the University of Michigan, Dearborn.