Following the annual California Women’s conference (hosted by California’s first lady Maria Shriver) yesterday, women leaders from the public health, environment, and consumer protection arenas gathered together to discuss the candidates for the top ticket races for U.S. Senate and California governor. National news media have for months focused on the chances of two Republican women, gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman and Senate candidate Carly Fiorina, in a largely leaning-Democratic state, and further speculated that women might elect these candidates in part because of their gender.
In a lively conversation (in the form of a webcast talk show hosted by former State Senator Sheila Kuehl), I joined women from the California Alliance, California Nurses Association, and California Planned Parenthood in refuting the notion that simply because Fiorina and Whitman are women, that they would represent women’s values if elected. In fact, the policies they embrace would take women backwards. All agreed that Senator Barbara Boxer and gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown would each do a far better job than their opponents on issues that matter to women, including reproductive health, environmental protection, and education.
Host: Former California State Senator Sheila Kuehl
Guests: Kathy Kneer, president and CEO, Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California; Lindsay Bubar, California League of Conservation Voters; DeAnn McEwen, president, California Nurses Association; Sara Nichols, California Alliance
Anecdotally, I know that women are frequently the ones making doctor’s appointments for their family members, reading the food labels, buying environmentally-friendly products, and are the first to notice when their children have asthma. These issues matter to women.
But beyond my personal observations, the strong environmental values of California’s women voters have long been demonstrated in major nonpartisan polls. For example, in the July 2010 PPIC poll on Californians and the environment, 80% women believe global warming is a “very serious” or “somewhat serious” threat to California (versus 65% men), and 85% women favor reducing overall greenhouse gas emissions by requiring industry to reduce emissions. In addition, about 8 in 10 women voters say the environment is either very or somewhat important in determining how they will vote in both the Senate and gubernatorial contests.
Barbara Boxer and Jerry Brown each have decades of public service during which they have been strong environmental champions. Boxer and Brown have unequivocally supported California’s global warming law. Relying on widely discredited studies, Carly Fiorina calls the law a job-killer and admits that she is not sure climate change is caused by human activity. Meg Whitman has said as governor, she would suspend the law on her first day in office. Both Boxer and Brown have been consistently against new offshore oil drilling, while Whitman has flip-flopped on the issue and Fiorina remains in favor of new drilling. This is just the tip of the iceberg in how out of step Whitman and Fiorina are with Californian women voters (you can watch the video for more evidence).
As women voters, we must stand up on November 2 and protect ourselves and our families by voting for Jerry Brown and Barbara Boxer, the only choices for the environment and California.