Women stand up to take their place in gov­ern­ment

The Community Connection - - OPINION -

This much we know for sure: Come Novem­ber, Penn­syl­va­nia’s all-boys club also known as the Key­stone State’s Con­gres­sional del­e­ga­tion will come to an end.

And you can thank the vot­ers of the sub­urbs and the new 5th Dis­trict for the wel­come change.

Vot­ers in the new 5th will se­lect be­tween Demo­crat Mary Gay Scan­lon, an at­tor­ney and for­mer pres­i­dent of the Walling­ford Swarth­more School Board, and Re­pub­li­can Pearl Kim, a for­mer county as­sis­tant dis­trict at­tor­ney and deputy state at­tor­ney gen­eral.

Thus will end the all-male makeup of Penn­syl­va­nia’s 18 seats in Congress. No woman has rep­re­sented Penn­syl­va­nia since Demo­crat Allyson Schwartz rep­re­sented a sub­ur­ban dis­trict from 2005 to 2014. It gets worse.

The state has never elected a woman United States se­na­tor. Demo­crat Katie McGinty failed in her bid to un­seat in­cum­bent Re­pub­li­can Sen. Pat Toomey in 2016.

Nor a gov­er­nor. No woman has ever resided in the gov­er­nor’s man­sion for a rea­son other than be­ing the state’s first lady.

But things are chang­ing. Take an­other look at this week’s 5th Dis­trict race. Not only are both par­ties nom­i­nat­ing women, Scan­lon was vic­to­ri­ous over five other women can­di­dates.

And it’s not just Delaware County. Next door in Ch­ester County, Chrissy Houlahan was un­op­posed in seek­ing the nom­i­na­tion for the va­cant 6th Dis­trict seat.

She is now a heavy fa­vorite to suc­ceed Rep. Ryan Costello, who also opted not to seek re-elec­tion. She will face lit­tle-known and un­der­funded Chadds Ford real es­tate lawyer Greg McCauley in the fall.

Even more im­pres­sive was the show­ing of Madeleine Dean in the new 4th Dis­trict in Mont­gomery County. She rolled to a huge vic­tory in the con­tested Demo­cratic Pri­mary, in the process swamp­ing a guy with some se­ri­ous name recog­ni­tion, for­mer county com­mis­sioner and U.S. Rep Joe Ho­ef­fel, who also sports un­suc­cess­ful runs for U.S. Se­nate and gov­er­nor on his re­sume, and an­other woman, anti-gun vi­o­lence ad­vo­cate Shira Good­man.

It’s part of a “pink” wave that was rooted in the stun­ning re­jec­tion of Hil­lary Clin­ton two years ago and the elec­tion of Don­ald Trump to the White House. It could be seen in the Demo­cratic wave that hit Delaware County in Novem­ber, when the county lit­er­ally turned blue, elect­ing two Democrats to the Delaware County Coun­cil, some­thing that has not hap­pened since the county Home Rule Char­ter was changed in the mid-1970s, as well as sweep­ing all three county row of­fices up for grabs.

Across the state and na­tion, record num­bers of women rolled up their sleeves – and threw their hats into the ring in runs for pub­lic of­fice.

In Penn­syl­va­nia eight women won nom­i­na­tions in Con­gres­sional races, seven Democrats and one Re­pub­li­can.

“We are see­ing an en­ergy level to elect women in the state,” said G. Terry Madonna, the di­rec­tor of Franklin and Mar­shall Col­lege’s Cen­ter for Pol­i­tics and Pub­lic Af­fairs.

Madonna pointed to three cru­cial fac­tors in the spur of women can­di­dates: a clear back­lash against Pres­i­dent Trump; the #Me­too move­ment that erupted in the wake of sex­ual ha­rass­ment al­le­ga­tions against a num­ber of high-pro­file men; and pro­gres­sives mo­ti­vated by the hor­ror of the lat­est mass school shoot­ing in Park­land, Fla.

Scan­lon was all over TV with an ad fea­tur­ing for­mer Philadel­phia mayor and Gov. Ed Ren­dell call­ing her “Trump’s night­mare.”

In a way, it’s a re­ac­tion to what many see as an on­go­ing “night­mare” in terms of is­sues that mat­ter to women: health care, con­tra­cep­tion and re­pro­duc­tive rights, and gun vi­o­lence.

“It was en­er­giz­ing for a lot of women,” said Demo­crat Bib­iana Bo­e­rio, who won the nom­i­na­tion in the new 14th Dis­trict in West­more­land County.

If the name is fa­mil­iar to this re­gion, it may be be­cause she’s a one-time chief of staff to for­mer U.S. Rep. Joe Ses­tak, D-7. “To me, it’s a pe­riod of time where women are start­ing to un­der­stand they have a voice.

And it’s im­por­tant as we look at the state that we think about in­clu­sion and ev­ery­one hav­ing a voice. And one as­pect of that is gen­der rep­re­sen­ta­tion.”

In the 5th Dis­trict, across the re­gion, state and na­tion, those voices were raised as vot­ers went to the polls with a mes­sage: A woman’s place is in the House.

The House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives, that is.

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