Monday, December 29, 2008

Women in Virginia Politics

An article in the Richmond Times-Dispatch discusses how with Thelma Drake losing her reelection bid there are no longer any Virginia women in Congress. Leslie Byrne, who became the first woman from Virginia to serve in Congress back in 1992, pointed out that this is disappointing since women make up 50% of the population.
"This is a step backward for Virginia," said Leslie L. Byrne of Fairfax County, who in 1992 became the first woman elected to the House of Representatives from Virginia. The Democrat served for one term, representing the 11th District in Northern Virginia before losing to Republican Thomas M. Davis III.

"Regardless of the party, women ought to have more representation; they make up over 50 percent of the population," said Byrne, who remained active in politics and narrowly lost the race for lieutenant governor in 2005.
The article does go on to point out that there has been some good news in the arena, however, as there are a record number of women serving in the Congress -- 95. Furthermore, there was discussion about the formation of "The Farm Team." The team is a group of woman (which includes the fantastic blogger Vivian Paige) who support women running for office. I've met many of the women involved with the organization and I have to say that I've been impressed with their work right out of the gate.

In Northern Virginia, for instance, there is going to be a special election to replace Brian Moran in the House of Delegates. The Democratic nominee in the race is Charniele Herring, who has been receiving some support from members of "The Farm Team." Just shortly after she declared her candidacy, for instance, I saw a member of "The Farm Team" at an event and she made sure I received a press release about Herring's candidacy and spent a fair amount of time talking to me about what her priorities would be in the House of Delegates.

Obviously there's a lot more work to be done in regards to electing more women, but the quick actions of the Farm Team in Herring's campaign suggests that the correct steps are being taken here in Virginia to address the issue. I look forward to a time when the scales are so balanced that people don't even think twice about the gender of a candidate. With the work of organizations like the Farm Team, hopefully that time will come soon.

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