November’s Pro-Life Women Candidates

In the immediate aftermath of the June 8 primaries, main-line media moguls declared the first “Year of the Woman” in national politics since 1992. But after a night’s sleep, they realized they had spoken hastily and backed off their glowing pronouncements. After all, unlike the four leftist pro-abortion females elected to the Senate in 1992, this year’s crop of victorious women are fiscally, economically, and culturally conservative. And to make matters worse, Sarah Palin endorsed and actively campaigned for several of them. Tina Brown, summed up their position when she said on Good Morning America, “It almost feels as if all these women winning are kind of a blow to feminism.”

The attempts to write these women off as unelectable are equally unfair. Take California:  Republican primary voters chose two very accomplished women to be their standard bearers for governor and U.S. senator in November.

Gubernatorial nominee Meg Whitman, earned a B.A. in economics from Princeton and a Harvard M.B.A. She served as a vice president of strategic planning at The Walt Disney Company and president of Florists’ Transworld Delivery. In 1998, she joined eBay as C.E.O. when it had only thirty employees. When she stepped down  in 2008, it had 15,000 – and $8 billion in annual revenue. Married with two children, her estimated wealth is $1.3 billion. Although hardly a strong pro-lifer, she does support parental notification.

Republican Senatorial candidate Carly Fiorina received a degree in philosophy and medieval history from Stanford and went on to earn two masters degrees – one in business from the University of Maryland and the other from M.I.T. in management science.

Early in her career, she worked at several companies as a receptionist or secretary. Joining AT&T as a management trainee, she went on to become a senior vice president in charge of the company’s system division. At the AT&T spinoff company, Lucent, Fiorina was appointed group president for Global Services. Named in 1998 by Forbes magazine as the “most powerful woman in business,” she became the first woman to head a Fortune 500 Company when she was hired to be C.E.O. of Hewlett-Packard.

Despite their spectacular careers and their impressive primary victories over establishment candidates, the pundits are writing their political obituaries. The Washington Post’s Harold Meyerson, declared that Whitman and Fiorina were headed for defeat because they won their respective nominations by taking positions that are “deeply offensive to a fatally large swath of California voters. Their campaigns may be gold-plated, but they have ears of purest tin.”

Why does the Left consider them probable losers? In Meg Whitman’s case, it is because she is pro-offshore drilling, opposes illegal immigration and amnesty, and same sex-marriage. As for Carly Fiorina, she’s offensive because she’s pro-life, pro-gun, supported (as did Whitman) California’s Proposition 8 that permits marriage only between a man and a woman, and opposes cap-and-trade legislation.

Pro-lifers should not, however, despair: the media are wrong. With voters angry over the fiscal mismanagement of our national, state, and local governments, expect social issues to be on the political back burners this fall. Candidates who prove to the voters that they have the management skills and the public policy ideas to cut the size and cost of dysfunctional government can win as conservatives and pro-lifers even in wacky states like California.

I’m optimistic this year because of the election of Christopher Christie in 2009 as governor of  very left-leaning New Jersey.

Chris Christie, a Roman Catholic of Irish and Italian descent, made his mark as a no-hold-barred U.S. Attorney for New Jersey (2002-2009). He put behind bars a slew of the top members of the corrupt Democratic machine. 

When he won the Republican primary for governor in June 2009, he was dismissed by the establishment (particularly the socially progressive Christine Todd Whitman-wing of New Jersey’s GOP) as a loser because he is pro-life. He was also frowned upon for being a proponent of tax credits and vouchers for parochial school students, merit pay for teachers, as well as for being pro-gun and anti-same sex marriage.

These perceived liabilities, however, did not stop Christie from knocking off super-liberal, multi-millionaire incumbent governor, Jon Corzine, in a three-way race. Christie won because he had the guts to tell voters that their state was on the edge of a fiscal abyss and pledged to fix the states hemorrhaging budget, which was facing a deficit in fiscal year 2010-2011, to the tune of about $11 billion.

Since taking office in January, Christie has fearlessly taken on the states’ vested interests. In February, he signed an executive order which declared a “state of fiscal emergency exists in the state of New Jersey,” and eliminated $2 billion from the budget deficit he inherited. Christie’s budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1 contains major restructuring, no new taxes and some huge cuts – particularly in aid to school districts – and appears to be on track to be approved by the Democrat-controlled state legislature.   

Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina should learn from the Christie experience that in these difficult financial times, even very blue-state voters are looking for competence. And like Christie, they and other women running for office may find that being conservative or pro-life does not make you as unelectable as the pro-abortion crowd would like everyone to think. An outright majority of Americans now call themselves pro-life and others offer only restricted support for abortion. How long can the media, the think tanks, and the political hacks continue to characterize being pro-life as an electoral liability? 

George J. Marlin, Chairman of the Board of Aid to the Church in Need USA, is the author of The American Catholic Voter and Sons of St. Patrick, written with Brad Miner. His most recent book is Mario Cuomo: The Myth and the Man.