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Ohio Dems add lady staffers as women's issues take center stage in 2014 election

Nationally and in Ohio, women outnumber men and out vote them, too. So news Monday morning from the Ohio Democratic Party (ODP) announcing it has hired two more women into senior staff positions to strengthen a team committed to putting Ohio back on track in 2014, further shows the extent women's health and reproductive rights will factor into the 2014 elections in Ohio and across the nation.

Democratic candidate for governor, Ed FitzGerald.
Democratic candidate for governor, Ed FitzGerald.
John Michael Spinelli
Ohio Democrats are hoping that women will rally to their candidate this year like they did in 2012, when President Obama and Senator Sherrod Brown won their support by championing health and reproductive rights issues.
Getty Images

The big prize in Ohio is the executive branch, currently occupied by Republican incumbents Gov. John R. Kasich and Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor. The Democratic ticket of Ed FitzGerald and Sharen Neuhardt hope to do what few say they can, topple a well-funded incumbent in an election cycle historically known for lower voter turnout.

In Virginia's race for governor last year, Republican Attorney General Ken Cucinelli lost to Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat, by a nine-point gap among women. As the GOP continues to push what Democrats say is an extremist agenda against women, which reared its ugly head again last week when former Republican Governor of Arkansas Mike Huckabee accused women of being both dependent on government for birth control and unable to control their libidos, it appears what hobbled Mitt Romney with the fairer sex in 2012 could do so again this year.

Huckabee, who tossed his hat into the presidential ring unsuccessfully in 2010 and whose name is again mentioned as a possible contender in 2016, rekindled the claim by Democrats that Republicans are fighting a "war on women."

"If the Democrats want to insult the women of America by making them believe that they are helpless without Uncle Sugar coming in and providing for them a prescription each month for birth control because they cannot control their libido or reproductive system without the help of the government, so be it," he said, according to a news source.

An inconvenient truth for Huckabee is that in 2005, when he was Governor of Arkansas, he signed a law mandating Arkansas insurance plans provide contraception coverage, including church-affiliated organizations such as hospitals and universities.

Ohio Republican Party Chairman Matt Borges issued a statement last week after advocates for more abortions endorsed the Ohio Democratic Party ticket on the same day as the March for Life.

"It is beyond the pale that on the day that thousands of Ohioans and Americans are participating in the March for Life that Ohio Democrats are being endorsed and holding an event with supporters of more abortions," he said. "The Democratic ticket stood with an organization that performs hundreds of thousands of abortions every year and advocates for late-term abortions. Ohio Democrats are joining the likes of Democrat New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and saying that those who believe in life are not welcome in the Democratic Party or in a state they would govern."

As one Buckeye activist told CGE today, the FitzGerald-Neuhardt ticket hopes women show Gov. Kasich just how much they don't like the laws he's signed that hurt them.

"The same gender gap that helped President Obama and Sen. Brown score decisive victories last year will help Ed FitzGerald this year. In each race, voters faced a choice between one candidate who supports women's health care needs and another who sees Planned Parenthood as the enemy," said Sandy Theis, a former newspaper reporter for various Ohio publications who is now a Democratic strategist.

The addition of Jennah Craig to ODP's election year team represent campaign mile markers ODP hopes will pay off in this year's midterm elections.

"As the Ohio Democratic Women’s Caucus director, Jennah Craig will work to mobilize voters in opposition to Governor Kasich and Attorney General Mike DeWine’s backwards attacks against women’s health care," ODP spokesman Jerid Kurtz blasted out today. Craig graduated with a B.A. in women’s studies from Ohio University and is a veteran of both the 2006 and 2010 Ohio election cycles.

“Jennah will be on the front lines organizing women to action against Governor Kasich’s backwards policies, like defunding Planned Parenthood, or Attorney General Mike DeWine’s efforts to limit access to birth control,” ODP Caucus Chairwoman Kathy DiCristofaro said.

Lauren Harmon, the former executive director of the Virginia Democratic Party that helped McAuliffe manage his win last year, will work as ODP's coordinated campaign director.

When ODP Chairman Chris Redfern recently named Elizabeth Walters as the party's executive director, he was sending a message about the large role women voters will play this year.

Worrisome for the GOP and its candidates is a new survey out Monday from the The Pew Research Center that shows Americans' policy priorities. At the top of that list are the economy (80% top priority), jobs (74%) and terrorism (73%). As in past years, Pew noted, the lowest-rated priorities are dealing with global warming (29%) and dealing with global trade (28%).

Dealing with the problems of the poor and needy—which Census figures show are important to women who make up a large percentage of the poor and needy—has declined as a top priority among Republicans. Just 32 percent of Republicans, Pew says, think dealing with the problems of poor and needy people should be a top priority for President Obama and a split Congress, down 14 points since 2013 (46%).

Criticizing Huckabee's "tone," Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said, "I’ve said many times before that the policies and principles of our party are sound. However, as we look to grow the ranks of our party, we must all be very conscious of the tone and choice of words we use to communicate those policies effectively," as reported by Politico.

In the wake of Huckabee's statement and Priebus' call to be mindful of tone, GOP lawmakers in Washington plan to vote next week on a bill that would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

When Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed the state's last budget—the largest spending package in state history, which for a fiscal hawk like Kasich is news worthy by itself—he did not veto, as he could have, a list of provisions not discussed in committee or voted on in either the House or the Senate that put Ohio among states with some of the harshest treatments for women and control of their bodies and reproductive systems.

Hiring women into the organization is one thing, whether ODP can convert gender into votes in November is quite another. From one issue after another—food stamps and education to jobs and unemployment insurance extensions—when women now constitute the majority gender, attempts to demote them or denigrate or deny them their fair share in these issues, including access to abortion as a constitutional right, may lash back at those who dare exact more harmful hurts on them.

The news article Ohio Dems add lady staffers as women's issues take center stage in 2014 elections appeared first on Columbus Government Examiner.

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