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Iowa Gender Parity Group: Choosing Harkin’s Successor Shouldn’t be Limited to Boy’s Club

Iowa shares a dubious distinction with Mississippi: They are the only two states never to have sent a woman to Congress or the governor’s mansion.

U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin’s planned retirement poises Iowa to end a dubious distinction it shares only with only three other states and send a woman to Congress for the first time in the state’s history, says 50-50 in 2020, a bipartisan Iowa group aimed at charting a new course for women in politics.

The organizations co-chair, former Iowa Sen. Maggie Tinsman, said in a news release that with the exception of Republican Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds, women’s names are mostly absent from the list being floated to succeed Harkin. Possible candidates include 1st District Congressman Bruce Braley, 3rd District Congressman Tom Latham and 4th District Congressman Steve King.

But Tinsman, a former Republican state senator from Bettendorf, and 50-50 co-chair Jean Lloyd-Jones, a former Democrat state senator from Iowa City, said women should be given equal consideration.

Some  other possible names:

  • Former U.S. ambassador and Iowa Senate president Mary Kramer of Clive (Republican)
  • Des Moines attorney Roxanne Conlin (Democrat)
  • Des Moines City Councilwoman Christine Hensley (Republican)
  • Iowa Senate President Pam Jochum (Democrat)
  • Iowa Economic Development Authority Director Debi Durham (Republican)
  • Former Iowa lieutenant governor Patty Judge (Democrat)
  • Former Iowa lieutenant governor Sally Pederson (Democrat)
  • Iowa House Majority Leader Linda Upmeyer (Republican)

"Those are a few of the names that come to mind, but by no means all of the qualified women in our state," Tinsman said in the release. "We hope the parties will encourage some of the strong, qualified, and often overlooked women in our midst to run for one or more of the open seats."

Does gender matter? What women would you like to see run for Sen. Harkin's seat? Tell us below in the comments.

Formed in 2010, 50-50 in 2020 is a bipartisan initiative to achieve a 50 percent female membership in the Iowa General Assembly and congressional delegation and election of the state's first woman governor by 2020, the 100th anniversary of American women's suffrage.

Currently, Iowa, Delaware, Mississippi and Vermont are the only states to have never elect a woman to Congress. Though 24 states have never elected a female governor, Iowa and Mississippi are the only states to have never elected a woman governor nor sent a woman to Congress, according to the release.

Iowans who have suggestions of other women they would like to see serving in either Congress or the Iowa General Assembly are encouraged to go to the initiative's web site to make their recommendations.

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Beth Dalbey January 29, 2013 at 08:16 PM
Does gender matter? What women would you like to see run for Sen. Harkin's seat?
Deb Thornton January 30, 2013 at 01:06 AM
Doesn't matter. For what it's worth the 50-50 in 2020 group is not in the least bi-partisan. Though the Co-chairs are from each party - the real focus of the members of this group is electing an ultra-liberal Democrat woman. There was no support for either Kim Reynolds or Marriannette Miller-Meeks from this organization. Specifically because they were Republicans. And I would not expect support from them for Lt. Governor Reynolds if she were to run for either Senate or Governor.

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