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Monday | October 06, 2003

The Yellin Report: Female Candidates-Key to Dem victories in South?

By Stephen Yellin

In order to have control of the Senate in 2005, we need to hold our open seats in the South. So far, there are four (counting Bob Graham, who may or may not run for reelection in the debris of his Presidential campaign) open seats, and three of them may feature strong women as our nominees. These states are Georgia, Florida and South Carolina, not exactly Democratic turf (at least, not since Jimmy Carter). The candidates are Inez Tenenbaum in SC, Michelle Nunn in Georgia and Betty Castor in Florida.

South Carolina
Inez Tenenbaum is SC's extremely popular Superientendant of Education. During the Democratic debacle last year in the Palmetto State she won with 59 percent against a reasonably strong opponent. Why? Simply put, they like her in conservative Lexington County, one of the biggest in South Carolina. As a strong supporter of women's rights (like Senator Hollings, Inez is pro-choice), Tenenbaum is extremely popular among women, including Republican women. She is the DSCC choice for a difficult task -- keeping an open seat in South Carolina. However, internal polls for both sides have shown Tenenbaum with a strong lead over her primary opponent, Columbia Mayor Bob Coble, and also over her Republican opponents. Inez Tenenbaum may very well become South Carolina's first female Senator.

Democrats have another tough race, with Zel Miller leaving us an open seat in unfriendly territory. However, Michelle Nunn is stepping up to the plate. The daughter of Senator Sam Nunn, a legendary figure in Georgia, she's not exactly a chip off the old block (for example, he was pro-life, while she's pro-choice). Michelle Nunn recently resigned as head of "Hands on Atlanta" a popular charity organization that helps poor children in the state capital. At 36, she already has an impressive resume, and would make a strong candidate. If you're wondering whether her age will make a difference, remember that a 32-year old Republican just made the runoff for Governor in LA. If Bobby Jindal can do it, so can Michelle Nunn. After all, she's better than "Nunnthing".

Betty Castor, the popular, competent ex-Education Commissioner, is a veteran of Florida politics. She went to Africa as a young woman to help the people of that impoverished continent, then came home to serve Florida. She recently left her job as the President of a Florida university and is now running to succeed Bob Graham in the US Senate. She faces a crowded primary but has the support of Emily's List, and her name recognition is helping her lead the field so far. Should Graham reenter the race, Castor (like the other Dem Senate candidates) has agreed to drop out.

Tenenbaun, Nunn and Castor are strong candidates with excellent resumes, and will hopefully be our nominees. With Nancy Farmer, Barbara Boxer, Patty Murray and Barbara Mikulski all running as well, 2004 could very well be a year for the Woman Senate Candidate.

Posted October 06, 2003 01:22 PM | Comments (105)


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