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Could New York Elect Its First Female Governor in 2014?

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With the 2016 presidential election still two years away, many commentators are already deeming Hillary Clinton the anointed Democratic candidate. Her biggest potential challenger appears to be Elizabeth Warren, a more liberal, progressive politician who, despite claiming she will not run, is being pushed to mount a campaign by many liberal flanks of the party.

While a lot could change in the ensuing two years, the gender politics of this potential match-up are incredible. No woman has ever captured the presidential nomination for a major party in the United States. Clinton came the closest in 2008 against Barack Obama, but fell short in a long and brutal primary campaign. The fact that the two most highly touted potential candidates are both women is somewhat revolutionary.

Congress also currently boasts the highest number of women in U.S. history, despite the fact that the U.S. only ranks 77th on the international list of gender equality in government.

These advancements at the national level belie a bigger problem at the state level. Women still lag far behind men in achieving elected positions across the U.S.

New York, where Clinton served as senator, is a particularly interesting and paradoxical case. Historically, it ranks second in sending the highest number of female representatives to Congress. But, New York is tied with Florida for the third largest number of seats in Congress, which means the potential to send female candidates has also been much greater.

Just 35 women have served as governor in the United States, and they come from only 23 states — less than half.

Not all of the women were elected, however; four became governor through succession and one only served as acting governor for a week in New Hampshire between the death of one governor and the inauguration of his successor in 1983. That leaves only 30 women who have actually been elected to the highest office in their state.

How does New York fall into this? Despite its record with sending women to Congress, it has never had a female governor.

In some ways, the lack of a female governor is surprising considering New York’s deep history with the women’s suffrage movement.

The first women’s rights convention in the country took place in Seneca Falls, New York, in 1848. New Yorker Elizabeth Cady Stanton was the first woman to ever run for the U.S. House of Representatives in 1866 (she received only 24 of 12,000 votes cast). The state also elected the first black and Puerto Rican women to ever serve in Congress in 1980 and 1992, respectively.

Despite these historically poignant moments though, New York politics is still, in many ways, an “Old Boys Club.” Not only has a woman never served as governor, but there has also never been a female mayor of New York City — the two most powerful positions in the state.

Democratic bosses and the region’s demography — blue-collar and heavily Catholic — have had a negative impact on the possibility of a woman getting elected in the region.

Zephyr Teachout is hoping to change this.

Teachout is running as the more liberal candidate, dedicated to “traditional democratic values” against Governor Andrew Cuomo in September’s Democratic primary.

Last time I checked, the Democratic Party is supposed to stand for women’s equality
Zephyr Teachout, New York gubernatorial candidate
However, she is not running on a platform of gender politics.

While she says it is “about time to have a female governor of the state,” she does not have strong ties with many of the prominent women’s organizations in New York. Emily’s List, for example, recently announced its 2014 endorsements for the state, and while the organization is backing 4 prominent Democratic candidates for state Senate, Teachout was not on the list.

In an interview for IVN, Teachout said she is not running an endorsement-based campaign, and instead is focused on engaging citizens at a grassroots level.

However, her campaign recently came out strongly against Cuomo’s plan to create a Women’s Equality Party. Teachout explained that Cuomo is spending a “quarter of a million dollars to get his name on the ballot next to the words ‘women’s equality.’”

“Last time I checked, the Democratic Party is supposed to stand for women’s equality,” she commented in an interview for the New York Daily News. “We don’t need a new ‘party’ for women’s equality. We need a new governor with traditional Democratic values.”

Teachout is hoping to be that person — and make history by being the first woman elected governor in New York. As much of a Democratic stronghold as New York is, all Teachout needs to do is beat the incumbent in the primary. However, that will be a tall hurdle to clear.

Photo Source: AP

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49 comments
Debbie Taylor Shivers
Debbie Taylor Shivers

Really, who cares? I think we should just see a written statement of politicians and not know what they are physically. It just doesn't matter.

Charles Isildur
Charles Isildur

Possible? But the voting public of New York has to believe that a woman can govern.

Ralph Stephens
Ralph Stephens

so what? Elect the QUALIFIED people, female/male. I don't care.

Stephen Brooks
Stephen Brooks

From another article, on racial distribution: The policy, named the “Framework for Diversity and Inclusive Excellence,” calls for “proportional participation of historically underrepresented racial-ethnic groups at all levels of an institution, including high-status special programs, high-demand majors, and in the distribution of grades.” How about let's just apply this to state governors, senators, congressional representatives, and Facebook commentators...I guess we'll have to exempt the presidency, though...and rotate the "elections" through the racial-ethnic groups in turn... Now, could New York elect its first capable governor in 2014?

Jason Vorva
Jason Vorva

well...at least 3 of those 5 are Republican....NM, SC, OK....

Eugene J Toni
Eugene J Toni

I don't understand your point. Are elections about getting the best governor or is it an EEO slot?

David Traub
David Traub

Those 5 women are Jan Brewer of Arizona, Nikki Haley of South Carolina, Mary Fallin of Oklahoma, Susana Martinez of New Mexico and Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire.

Michael Goins
Michael Goins

Sarah Palin had credentials -- counted for squat. Elect someone based on what they look like or what parts they have, and reap the consequences.

RandySeck
RandySeck

Like seeing Russia from her backyard, pretending to be a normal person and not filthy out of touch rich, and quitting her job as governor halfway through her term? :p

DougGoodman
DougGoodman

Creating a separate women's party would just continue the pigeon-holing labeling that some like to use to keep the targeted groups from breaking out. Women will be elected if they run. Female elected officials need to mentor and encourage other women to run. 

Barry Disbrow
Barry Disbrow

We should elect a woman only if she is best qualified and not to fill some quota.

Raymond Carroll
Raymond Carroll

I hope not. It is a bad omen when men let woman rule over them. That goes for Hillary too.

Gary Holmes
Gary Holmes

Since when is gender important? Any more so that race? Look where that carp got us...

Janet Potter
Janet Potter

Sarah Palin was right on death panels. And bridges to nowhere. And making government transparent. And going rogue.

Max Doumanian
Max Doumanian

can't get elected if they don't run. this is just fueling more anti-male sentiment

Martin Mcdowell
Martin Mcdowell

Good day , Sir , and many blessings to you also , : )

Edward F Meerschaert
Edward F Meerschaert

You just feel that only you should be allowed to poke fun at people, that is truly sad and pathetic as is the source. Perhaps if you had ever achieved something it would be different. Good day!

RandySeck
RandySeck

Everyone is allowed to "poke fun at people". That is not a crime, yet. Although the thought police are coming, lol...

Greg Chambers
Greg Chambers

Who cares? Women in Congress still vote against the interests of their people in favor of their corporate masters. Do you actually think that genitalia prevents evil, or causes it?

Martin Mcdowell
Martin Mcdowell

Well done ^^ your articulation of the subject is well groomed to personal attacks , Ty , my first insult , ( NOT ) it's pretty bad when your part of the debate is just a personal attack , hahaha , proves your ignorance to subject matter ,

Martin Mcdowell
Martin Mcdowell

Edward F Meerchaert , I am pretty sure your 30 seconds of Fame is just around the corner

Gene Chaas
Gene Chaas

No, the Democratic apparathciks have been running NY for way too long, and this isnt even on their radar - their retirement pensions are. Plus, Prince Andrew has too much MONEY to lose and the opposition decided to run an intellectual dud. REAL politics in NY is a cabal. Women aren't invited. Its run by Dems nearly exclusively, so draw your own conclusions about the veracity of the conclusions in this article. Parties serve themselves, no one else.

Carolyn Burrell Jones
Carolyn Burrell Jones

Gender politics,just to make a first for the record books?Tracking numbers of appointees and judging POTUS' by numbers of women appointed to Scotus,judges,to head fed agencies,etc.....when at times,that's the only criteria met? That is the inevitability of a Clinton presidency.Once that's achieved,we can only "elect" from a group we haven't had before,and we will never have a representative government again,only someone from group deemed under represented,the age of special interests.Of course NY wants that distinction.

Kurt Blankenship
Kurt Blankenship

regardless of party difference - I would've thought that asking such a question was beyond reproach at this moment...I mean, the Democrat Party was so bend on pushing a black-man before a white-woman (even without regarding his political/leadership credentials - a community organizer & junior Senator). The Party & media made ole Hillary out to be a poor choice...I don't recall hearing about misogyny then - it was the thought of following a well-spoken black man. So, while Hillary was made to play third fiddle within the Democrat Party politics - Rhino McCain comes on the seen with Palin as his running mate. And, wow, what a field-day the press & late-night shows made of that...and still are... So, asking about female governors...yeah...until our media quits trashing every leading female (regardless of political background) politician, I really can't take answering this question.

Catherine Carson Clark
Catherine Carson Clark

Never vote on the basis of race or gender! I look at qualifications and/or voting record (if there is one) and listen to them speak with others as opposed to a stupid campaign commercial, most of which are out and out lies.

Martin Mcdowell
Martin Mcdowell

Well that would be a matter of opinion , you can have and keep this basket case , and I would appreciate it, if America would quit making stupid people Famous !!

Kevin C. Smith
Kevin C. Smith

Several comments that "gender shouldn't matter", even though the post says nothing that it should...

Cindy Edwards
Cindy Edwards

Always elect the right person for the job regardless of race, gender, sex, political party, or any other category you can come up with. Our gov't is a mess because so many people vote along bias lines or preferences instead of on qualifications for the job.

Rick LeFant
Rick LeFant

As long as she is conservative, I support it.

Joseph Algerio
Joseph Algerio

Rob astorino for governor! You see where voting solely on race or gender got us!

John Allegro
John Allegro

The only qualification needed for their governor is that they slept at a Holiday Inn...

Sal DiIorio
Sal DiIorio

Why is gender important? What does having a specific physical attribute contribute to qualification?

Martin Mcdowell
Martin Mcdowell

We should never elect representatives based on Racial or gender bias , How about we elect based on intellect and qualifications? - Remember " Sara Palin " Was a governor : (