Wife and Mother – A New Litmus Test for Electability

You hear in the ads. “I’m a mom.” You see it on the campaign trail. You hear in the speeches – as a virtue for a certain candidate and an accusation against an opponent. Out in Oklahoma – marriage and motherhood seem now to be the dividing line of competence and qualification to be elected the first woman governor in the state’s history.

According to Sean Murphy’s HuffingtonPost article today, the Democratic nominee Jari Askins offers a career resume as –   “a judge, a legislator, the head of a state agency, and a corporate attorney” – but she cannot check-off “wife and mother” :

But what she hasn’t been is a wife. The 57-year-old career woman, who now serves as the state’s lieutenant governor, has never been married or had children. And as this historic race between two women candidates for the state’s top office nears its conclusion, that gap in her biography is attracting increasing attention.

Mary Fallin – the GOP nominee – touts her recent remarriage and her blended family of six children as key assets – in fact, her best qualifications – in her quest to be governor.

At rallies and other appearances, opponent Rep. Mary Fallin, 55, a Republican congressman, regularly mentions her new husband and their combined six children. Fallin, who had two children from a previous marriage, married a divorced father of four in November. She says her family and her experience as a businesswoman and officeholder have made her most qualified to be governor.

What does the highlighting of the “wife, mother, family” experience in races across the country mean for election night results? The lack of marriage and children was noted frequently in discussions of  recent Supreme Court nominees and now members of the Court – Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. Where are we we today in the role of women in politics and government when marital status and motherhood are campaign attention-getters from Alaska to Oklahoma and even to Massachusetts?

Read the full article here on HuffingtonPost on-line.