by Paul Goldman
Let me make a flat prediction: If there is only one qualified female candidate running a competitive race for either the Lt. Governor or Attorney General spot on the 2013 Democratic ticket, she wins. End of story. If there are two such female candidates, one for LG, the other for AG, then there is a fifty-fifty chance both will get nominated. If there is a qualified female candidate running a competitive race for the gubernatorial nomination and there are no other women running for either LG or AG, then I think Terry MAC could be in for a very tough race, assuming she reads the political landscape better than he does.
What if there are such female candidates for all three offices? This would be unprecedented. So let me put that on the back burner for now.
Point being: It strikes me that ultrasound could awaken a politically sleeping giant, much as certain of the political fights in the GA helped push the idea of an African American on the Dem statewide ticket. Self evidentially, Wilder’s nomination was historic in 1985; it broke several hundred years of history across the Southland, and it was opposed by the top party leadership.
A female candidate in 2013 would not be historic — that goes to Mary Sue Terry, a super candidate in 1985 on what is already the most legendary ticket in VA history, Baliles-Wilder-Terry. Moreover, Leslie Byrne nearly won in 2005 for LG. And on the GOP side, Eddy Dalton had the lead until Don Beyer came from behind with a clever campaign.
It is also true that, but for the tragic death of Emily Couric to pancreatic cancer at such a young age, she would have been the winning Democratic LG candidate in 2001, Governor in 2005, and probably running in place of Tim Kaine for the Senate this year.
Historically then: Luck counts, and not just in Dustin Hoffman’s cable series of the same name. In politics, luck generally presents itself under the guise of timing.
The fetal ultrasound debate comes in time to be used by a female candidate for the 2013 DEM primaries, as the “gearing up” process now begins with the GA session coming to an end.
Running for office does require certain skills. Many qualified individuals are eliminated because they don’t know these skills can be learned if you are willing to do the hard work. However, there are any number of women already in Democratic politics, or in the business/academic/government world, capable of being either LG or AG easy.
Governor, that is harder for sure. But I bet there are at least 10 women in Virginia very qualified to serve and more than talented enough to run for the job. Are there 10 men? I don’t know.
As a practical matter, LG or AG makes the most sense for 2013 in terms of risk vs. reward; in the end, you want to win. Admittedly, when you run down ballot, you are often at the mercy of how the person at the top of the ticket is doing.
By focusing on LG or AG, I am just being practical: on balance, a female candidate for LG or AG, given the likely field, figures to have a much better chance of winning than going for the Guv spot against Terry MAC; that’s just basic handicapping. Sure, gender and race should not matter in an ideal world. And when we hold statewide contests in a such a venue, they won’t.
So my bottom line remains: If there is only one qualified female candidate running next year for any of the three Democratic statewide nominations, she can win that spot with a smart campaign, because ultrasound has sounded the call in my view, most likely for LG, next for AG, and the toughest being GUV.
Indeed, based on the likely 2012 GOP national ticket, the primary power of the right female candidate figures to be stronger in 2013 than it is even now.
P.S. What if Democrats go the Convention route? A female candidate under the conditions listed above might even be stronger, all other things being equal. But since a primary remains most likely, I have discussed this process only.