One Colorado trend that may be partly explainable by term limits is that fewer moderate Republican women are being elected to the legislature, says John Straayer, Colorado State University professor, author of the Colorado case study on term limits for a new book released this week by the National Council on State Legislatures.While the number of women serving in the legislature has remained relatively stable since term limits were implemented in 1990, the number of GOP women is down and the number of Democratic women is up.
In 1986, 24 women served in the Colorado House and Senate. Sixteen were Republicans; eight were Democrats.
In 2005, 34 women served in the legislature. Six were Republicans, and 28 were Democrats.
Straayer’s theory is that the reason fewer GOP women are winning office is because the party overall has gotten more radical. Women, he says, are more likely to gravitate toward issues that affect the family, such as health care and education. But in the last decade or two, the GOP has moved to the right. The party is preoccupied with issues such as gay marriage, immigration, and “abortion, abortion, and more abortion.”
Term limits means that the GOP moderate women who once were an important constituency in the legislature-women such as Dottie Lamm and Shirleen Tucker-had to give up their seats. When they left, fewer GOP women stepped up to run because the party platform is more hostile to moderates.
“If you’re a moderate woman in the mold of those who left because of term limits, if you want reasonable restrictions on guns, if you’re pro-choice or even pro-life but are favorably disposed to the morning-after pill, you’re not going to make it,” says Straayer.
Which finally brings us to Janet Rowland. Did Bob Beauprez picked Rowland, with her baggage about comparing gay marriage to bestiality, to appeal to the far right wing, as Cara DeGette writes here? Or was it because, as Straayer puts it, there is a “lack of robust high profile GOP women to pick from?”
[crossposted at www.MuckrakingMom.com]