Campaign for Women's Votes: Obamacare Versus Equal Pay

Monday, 31 Mar 2014 10:00 AM

By Melissa Clyne

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Democrats and Republicans are mapping two divergent paths in hopes of appealing to female voters in the November midterm elections: Equal pay vs. Obamacare, according to The Washington Post.

From West Virginia to Iowa, the GOP is trumpeting the myriad problems with the president’s healthcare law. The message, they are gambling, will resonate particularly with women, who control two out of every three healthcare dollars that are spent, Republican pollster Kellyanne Conway told the Post.

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Democrats, meanwhile, want to divert voters’ attention from Obamacare to legislation mandating equal pay for women, an issue Republicans may support, but not in the form of legislation.

In Iowa, for example, Republican state Sen. Joni Ernst is running for her party’s nomination to the U.S. Senate, but is consciously running a campaign free of gender issues. Iowa has never elected a woman to Congress.

"It would be historical, but it’s not part of my pitch," she said of the chance to become the state’s first female senator. "I don’t believe we should vote for somebody based on gender. We vote for the right person, and I’m the right person to go to Washington, D.C.

"Of course I’m always very diplomatic in the way that I attack any issue, and I think that’s appealing to women. Be straightforward about [issues], but be compassionate, show them that this is something that really matters to Iowans, not just female but also males," she said.

Ernst is one of a half-dozen Republican women in high-profile races, according to the Post, who could help the GOP regain control of the Senate.

Democrats have come out swinging on the equal pay issue. In Texas, gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis, a state senator, has aggressively attacked her opponent, Attorney General Greg Abbott, who has said he would veto the Lone Star state’s version of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, a bill that would permit women to file equal pay claims in state courts, CNN reported.

"We need a governor who will fight for economic opportunity for all Texans," Davis said at a rally last week as her supporters waved campaign-sponsored #EqualPay signs.

The two issues have come head to head in West Virginia, where Secretary of State Natalie Tennant, a Democrat, and Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, a Republican, have framed their campaigns on the respective platforms, according to The Post.

Tennant has called attention to Capito’s vote against Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, while her campaign touts "Women for Natalie," which heralds Tennant as a champion for her gender.

The GOP is sticking hard to its course, with Americans for Prosperity spending millions on television spots featuring women who have been harmed by Obamacare.

"It’s not just dropping an ad, we are backing it up with a real grass-roots effort," said Jennifer Stefano, regional director for Americans for Prosperity. "We are doing the ads to do some level of education for women on what is happening, particularly with Obamacare and how it’s negatively impacting their lives, but then we follow it up with how they can do something about it."

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