Points By Drew Pritt

Tuesday was WOMEN’S DAY at the Polls.
May 7, 2008, 7:28 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

 Kay Hagan waves to supporters at the Old Guilford County Courthouse in Greensboro on Tuesday.  

Regardless of how it finally ends for Hillary Rodham Clinton, in the Democratic Party, yesterday was “Women’s Day” at the polls in many key contests. Not only did Senator Clinton win the Indiana Presidential contests but  some other women won key contests.

In North Carolina, State Senator Kay Hagan (D), the niece of the late U.S. Senator and Governor of Florida, Lawton Chiles, beat out five other opponents with 61% of the vote to become the nominee for U.S. Senator. She will take on another woman, former Presidential candidate and former Secretary of Transportation and former Secretary of Labor and current U.S. Senator, Elizabeth Dole (R). Hagan had initially backed off the race but the DSCC recruited her to run and she faced a stiff competition from Democratic Party fundraiser and openly gay candidate, Jim Neal. However, Hagan blanketed the state in television advertising and impressive and dizzying pace of campaigning. She enters as the decided underdog yet potential upset winner against Dole.

Joining Hagan on the ticket will be coal miner’s daughter and current Lt. Governor, Bev Perdue, who survived one of the most stinging and roughest gubernatorial primaries in Tar Heel State history. She defeated State Treasurer Richard Moore with 55% of the vote after both raised vast sums of money and Perdue ended her negative ads two weeks ago with a pledge to go positive. Although she ended up being defended by two time Senate candidate and former Mayor of Charlotte, Harvey Gantt, against a distortional ad by Moore against Perdue that accused her of being a rascist. She now faces Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory who won his own bruising primary battle.

It was 1:30 a.m. before she claimed the lead and officially this afternoon but former U.S. Congresswoman Jill Long Thompson who was outspent and outgunned defeated Democratic Party fundraiser and architect, Jim Schellinger. Long Thompson, who is a former Secretary of Agriculture, rose suddenly from being a City Councilwoman to being a candidate for U.S. Senate in 1986. She lost and subsequently lost a bid for U.S. Congress in 1988, but won a special election for U.S. Congress in 1989 and served till 1994. She then became Secretary of Agriculture in the Clinton Cabinet and in 2002, after leaving office, attempted to return to U.S. Congress, losing 50%-46%. This year, Evan Bayh and the entire Democratic Party establishment got behind Schellinger and ignored Long Thompson who formed up a grassroots army. In the end, she beat Schellinger by 7,000+ unofficially. Look for Long Thompson to be competitive against unpopular Governor Mitch Daniels in the fall as well as shake up the Indiana Democratic Party.

Women still have a ways to go but last night was an indication that they are a political force that is here to stay. 


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