Senate candidates lack ovaries

With John Herrera joining Mike Nelson and Moses Carey, the tally is up to three very qualified Democratic candidates queuing up to run for Ellie Kinnaird's NC Senate seat in 2008. But Senator Kinnaird is still waiting for her Princess Charming who will be able to maintain female leadership in that seat.

I certainly share her concern about the small and shrinking number of women currently elected to the Senate (in fact, I wish she had raised it sooner) but I also have to wonder whether having a Latino, an openly-gay person, or an African American would also make a strong contribution to that body.

The Carrboro Citizen wonders whether Ellie will call her own bluff and run for re-election if she can't find a woman to run for her seat by next spring.

Kinnaird said she has met with several candidates considering the race, including Carey, Nelson and Herrera. While she's told them she intends to step down, Kinnaird said she has added the caveat that she wants to see a woman run for her seat and would support a woman candidate as long as the candidate “represents the values of the people of Orange and Person counties.”

- The Carrboro Citizen - Three are in, but is Kinnaird really out?, 9/13/07

I really feel torn. While I share the concern about women's leadership (especially in NC's good-old-boy Senate), we also have an abundance of local leaders who are ready to move up to higher levels of leadership that have not been available since Senator Kinnaird, NC Rep. Verla Insko, and U.S. Rep. David Price have all been so stable in their seats.



Ruby, I'm torn as well (and am still a Carrboro resident for voting purposes). I really like the idea of a woman in the seat, and I really like that Ellie might run again if there isn't a great candidate.

But Ellie doesn't get choose who has her seat. That's up to us voters.

It also seems you need to have women running for town and county level offices in order to have good candidates for the next level up.

Are there local women in office that you'd like to see run for higher office? (I'm not saying there's not.) If not, what can we do to get them to run?

Awww man. I thought Ruby was just making a politically correct and hilarious criticism that the candidates didn't have a backbone on some issue.

On this topic, though, I really wonder if (given the electorate in Chapel Hill and Carrboro) it really matters if/what minority a state senator is. It's not like they'd get elected if they weren't willing to listen to the concerns of a wide range of demographics. And while I personally think the community take skin/gender/orientation-focused politics too far sometimes, it's also one of the great strengths of the voting base in Orange County -- you are garaunteed at least to get your side listened to.

While the voters get to elect their choice of Senator, Ellie has every right to decide under what circumstances she is comfortable retiring. I truly hopes she doesn't retire without a viable woman candidate to replace her. Lillian's list research shows that even Republican women have a better record on women's issues than progressive male legislators.

Just for curiosity sake, I took a quick look at census numbers. North Carolina is about 50.5% female with 5 women in the senate, about 22% American with 7 AA senators, about 5% ( according to the Human Rights Campaign) with one Senator , and about 2% Hispanic with no senators.

Making no value judgments at all, the Hispanic population is short one senator, Gay and Lesbian North Carolinians are short about 11/2 senators,the African American community is short 8 senators, and the women of North Carolina are under represented by 20 ( soon to be 22) senate members.
So I guess the one thing we won't need is a straight white male Senator.

If this were an appointed office where another governing body made the decision regarding her replacement (such as US Supreme Court justice), and if the state political climate was unfavorable to her political views, I would understand Ellie's reluctance to hand over the reigns . (Alas, if only Sandra Day O'Connor had considered those consequences more carefully...)

However, unlike their disturbing trend in federal elections, the people of North Carolina have a history of electing effective, qualified and progressive state senators...Ellie, herself, being a perfect example. I would hope that she would defer to the power of democracy and allow the electorate to make an informed decision, and not take that privilege from them by basing her decision on gender alone.

If there were no qualified candidates seeking to run for the office, I would certainly understand her hesitation...but that is not the case here. I admire her for being candid about her decision-making process, and it was a sly political maneuver to put the word out that she may be stepping down to see who comes forward before deciding. But, it is my opinion that making gender the fulcrum of her decision whether to run again is not entirely logical, and doesn't support the principles of democracy. I hope that she will make her decision based on a variety of criteria, and then let the people speak.

...I mean to say the people in OUR REGION of NC have a history of electing qualified, effective and progressive representatives. Clearly other areas of the state aren't as enlightened ;-)

Maybe we need to find a biracial black/Hispanic lesbian to run.

Katrina, regarding Lillian's list research: does that hold true at the local and state level as well? Or is it focused on the national level?

Ruby, you say NC is "about 2% Hispanic with no senators" and "Making no value judgments at all, the Hispanic population is short one senator..."

Senator Tom Apodaca's (R-Henderson) father is Mexican, Apodaca was raised in El Paso, and is a member of hte National Caucus of Hispanic State Legislators.

For a bunch of progressive liberals, there sure are a lot of sexist/racist comments flying around this thread.

As much as I admire and respect Ms. Kinnaird, I resented her statement about females being more productive in legislature. Imagine if Bill Faison said "I'm going to retire only if I can be succeeded by a white male. It's clear that white males are more productive than women or minorities". He would be crucified!

I can't stop quibbling this morning. Ruby laments "about the small and shrinking number of women currently elected to the Senate"

While the number elected is small, it is NOT shrinking. Here are the number of women elected to the Senate in recent years:

2006: 8
2004: 7
2002: 7
2000: 5
1998: 7
1996: 6

It should not matter what gender is running for state senate. As long as they represent the values that I and other voters have, gender should not be an issue. Personally, I would like Martha Jenkins to run for Ellie's seat but it probably won't happen. So far, I haven't seen a candidate that is worth my vote.

Mia Culpa, Gerry, I had no idea Tom Apodeca was Hispanic.

oops. some of the quotes I attributed to Ruby were actually Katrina's, sorry.

Wow, Apodaca is my Senator (I didn't vote for him, of course), and I had no clue that he was Hispanic.

Martha Jenkins would be an interesting candidate. But I think Ruby is largely talking about for the Democratic nod, which traditionally gets the seat.

And while we're carving up underrepresented demographics, I wouldn't mind seeing someone from out in the county run (on either side of the political fence). Ellie is as nice as they come, but my limited interactions with her make it seem like Carrboro and Chapel Hill are the entirety of her constituency.

Or what about Person County? They get no love most of the time.

This is stupid. Isn't the point that enlightened voters distinguish candidates WITHOUT regard to sex, sexual-orientation, ethinicity, etc.? The opposite is the belief that only Whites can truly represent Whites, that only Women can truly represent Women, that only Blacks can truly represent Blacks and that only non-heterosexuals can represent other non-heterosexuals?
Politicans feel more understanding from their constituents when they're already in office and they receive contact from their constituents about issues.
The way the system works--legislaturers with more seniority have more power--I want a representative that will be there for some time. If Ellie is getting tired, then I want someone who will be there for some time. NOTE: I wrote "someone" rather than someman or somewoman.
That Ellie wants another candidate that is a woman is sexist.

I think Ellie would like to have someone (not that she chooses, the electorate chooses) that espouses her common interests and goals that she has been working on in the Senate. Many of those issues that she cares deeply about (not all) have historically been issues that women have put forward or cared deeply enough about to push. It is a disgrace to take her dedicated many years of service to these two counties, serving all people of all races and gender, and call her "sexist". If one looks very hard at her record in the Senate, it's obvious. Do the research before attacking. Ellie has served four terms in the legislature (8 years) and was Mayor of Carrboro and served four years there. Wanting a legislator who has been there "some time"? She did that and has devoted her life to public service. I would not call her "tired." She is ready to move on to other things and will devote her energy accordingly. Be it man or woman, I think Ellie would support the person whose interests most closely matched hers.

I think the whole thing will be moot --- I don't think that there will not be an open seat in the 23d Senate District.

Ovaries back in the picture:

State Sen. Ellie Kinnaird announced today she is running.

As recently as yesterday, the six-term senator, a Carrboro Democrat, had been coy about whether she planned to run for re-election, saying she had until February to decide, Lynn Bonner reports.

But potential successors had been announcing their interest in the seat, including Orange County commissioners Moses Carey and Mike Nelson, and Carrboro Alderman John Herrera.

Kinnaird's campaign sent an announcement Tuesday saying that she wanted to work for affordable health insurance for everyone, focused economic development efforts in needy areas, and a ban on executing the mentally ill.

Nothing against any of the others, all of them would make fine legislators, but I'm glad to see Ellie is running again.

Kirk has linked to a copy of Ellie's formal announcement. [PDF]

Is this a big surprise to anyone?

I am thrilled that Ellie is running and will support her. She has been an excellent senator to work with on issues that have been important to the Town Council.

Mike Nelson has suspended his candidacy for the seat.

Mike's response is quite gracious and dignified considering the angst Ellie's indecision has caused him.


I agree with you that Mike's response is quite gracious and dignified but I would add, "in keeping with his character".

George, by all means let's add "in keeping with his character." Gracious and dignified = pure Mike.

While I am disappointed that Mike will not be taking his talents to the state level, I am comforted knowing that he will continue to serve us brilliantly here in Orange County...even those of us waaaay up here in Northern OC!

I agree that it is a bit sexist in and of itself to say, "I want a female candidate for this seat." However, there are far too few women in office at this point in time. Perhaps if we changed to proportional representation, as exists in Europe, there would be more women in office as there are in Europe.

Kinnaird seems to be an OK state senator, but when I email her with my thoughts on issues on which we disagree, she never responds. When I email her supporting her stance on issues on which we agree, she writes back. I am puzzled by a politician who just ignores you when you disagree with her, and I've never encountered that with any other state politician that I can recall.


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