September 20, 2018

Run Like a Girl is devoted to promoting the multitudes of strong and independent women who are running towards election day at highly competitive speeds. And we would be remiss if we didn’t shine a bright light on the mothers inspiring the daughters who are running to make history, or who they themselves have blazed trails on our behalf.

According to research done by Dove, “66% of girls say their primary role model is their mom. At a pivotal age for developing confidence and character, girls look to their mothers for guidance and watch carefully the behaviors they espouse and the values they prescribe.”

The late Geraldine Ferraro, who in 1984 would be the first female Vice Presidential candidate representing a major party, often mentioned her mother, Antonetta, as her most vocal source of support. She said, quote, “Nobody had greater confidence in me than my mother.”

Hillary Rodham Clinton often credits her mother – Dorothy Rodham – for her tenacity, intellectual curiosity, might, and perseverance.

And remember that palpable confidence we witnessed in Hillary’s daughter Chelsea, as she introduced her Mom at the 2016 Democratic National convention.

Hillary is a giant role model for her daughter, in turn Chelsea will be one for her daughter, Charlotte – and so on. This is the same Chelsea, who mind you, said last month that she has NOT ruled out a run for office. She told the Guardian news that a move into politics is a “Definite No now,” but a “Definite maybe in the future.” We at Run Like a Girl like those odds.

In 1880 Lydia Sayer Hasbrouk of New York is said to have won the first electoral victory for American women, earning a seat on the local board of education. She was a mother of two. Susanna Salter, mother of nine, became the country’s very first female mayor in Argonia, Kansas, in 1887.

The old saying is that “necessity is the mother of invention.” But perhaps more appropo for these 2018 Midterms, a new version of the saying could be that “mothers are the necessity of REinvention.” They are reinventing politicking, reinventing policy making and in time, with enough momentum reinventing what true representation looks like in the halls of power.

It was as recent as April 9th of THIS year, that Tammy Duckworth of Illinois was the first Senator to give birth – And barriers were broken down almost immediately. It was as a direct result of the birth of her baby, Maile Pearl Bowlsbey, that prompted the Senate to vote unanimously to allow babies under the age of one onto the floor during votes. She and little Maile first arrived on the senate floor to ovation from her colleagues.

As recent as this June, Gayatri Agnew, an Arkansas candidate for state representative and mother of two toddlers petitioned the ethics commission, inquiring whether she could use campaign contributions to cover certain childcare expenses while she was out canvassing. In a 4-0 vote, the commission ruled in her favor.

That’s a pretty big step forward considering just 20 years ago, Jane Swift, lieutenant governor of Massachusetts, was FINED a $1250 civil penalty by the State Ethics Commission, for allowing her team to babysit her daughter for free. Mind you, these aides volunteered to babysit of their own volition and in a sworn affidavit.

So positive changes are occurring that would never have even been considered if these young mothers were not out there being the change they want to see in government. Now, the next female senator to give birth won’t need to go through the rigmarole that Tammy did, in order to make the workplace more accepting and conducive to motherhood.

But we still have miles and miles, and years and years to go. A 2017 Barbara Lee Family Foundation study found that it’s harder to reassure voters that women who run for office can balance work and family… So that’s on us, the voters, to once again see, recognize and acknowledge how our own implicit biases might be feeding into this false narrative.

On the positive, though, 2018 has seen more single mothers running for office than ever before. This would have been unheard of years ago. Remember back in his 1992 re-election campaign, Vice President Quayle stepped in the middle of it by disparaging the fictional character Murphy Brown when – as a single woman –she chose to keep her baby.

In a nod to what’s old is new again, again… Executive producer Diane English and Candice Bergen who plays the titular character, are bringing back Murphy Brown to primetime TV. That show was way ahead of its time. Perhaps time has finally caught up to Murphy.

According to 2017 United States Census data, out of approximately 12 million single parent families with children under the age of 18, more than 80 percent were headed by single mothers.

Lily Espinoza Ploski is a single mother to a 14-year old boy, and she is running to be California’s State Superintendent of Public Instruction. She says she believes, other than children, single mothers are probably one of the most disenfranchised groups of the population. Quote, “We have been systemically, politically, and economically taught from a very young age that, as a woman, our only worth is as a wife or a mother.”

Progress, slowly but surely. Movement forward. But where ever there is a yin there is a yang, while more and more people are recognizing that mothers can be effective leaders – according to that same 2017 BLFF study, “Some voters worry that a candidate or elected official who has never married and does not have children will not be able to truly understand the concerns of families.”

If you are one of those naysayers, look no further than the dynamic, Stacy Abrams, running for Governor of Georgia if you need proof that women without children can also be amazing leaders.

In our Candidate spotlight:

In New Hampshire a republican mother/daughter duo is running for the state legislature. Virginia Drye is a 19yr old spark plug and her equally passionate mom Margaret Drye, who homeschooled 9 children, are throwing their hats in the ring to change New Hampshire from a grey state to a much younger more vibrant one.

2nd Candidate spotlight:

Former republican, turned democratic mom Cheryl Nunn and her democratic daughter, Dawn Nunn are fired up and running for the legislature in Utah. If they win, they will make history as the first mother/daughter duo. Their decision to run was personal, even tragedy can’t stop Cheryl and Dawn from continuing on to the polls in Nov.. With the loss of a son and the adoption of two young granddaughters from a heroin addicted mom, this mother/daughter duo is full steam ahead, motivating their constituents to get to the polls and vote in the midterms.

To be a well informed voter, Ms. Nunn requested that we post links to the following non-partisan websites: http://followthemoney.org and http://Votesmart.org

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