Report: Calif., U.S. candidates mostly white men

White men still dominate electoral politics in California, though not by as wide a margin as the entire nation, a new report finds.

infographic-1White men represent two of every three names appearing on the ballot in 2012 and 2014 from the federal level down to counties, according to the “Who Runs (in) America?” report released Thursday by the Reflective Democracy Campaign of the Women Donors Network. Overall, 90 percent of candidates are white, 73 percent are men, and 66 percent are white men.

In California, 68 percent of candidates are white, 76 percent are men, and 54 percent are white men.

The demographics of candidates almost exactly match the demographics of those who hold elected office, as shown by the national “Who Leads Us?” report that the campaign released last fall. Of 42,000 people who hold office from the federal government down to the county level, 90 percent are white, 71 percent are men, and 65 percent are white men.

“The stark imbalance between the demographics of the American people and their elected officials will not change until voters have the opportunity to choose among candidates who reflect their communities,” Women Donors Network CEO Donna Hall said in a news release. “Women are half the population and people of color are almost 40 percent, and it’s time the people on our ballots reflect that.”

The new study analyzed more than 51,000 candidates running in nearly 38,000 elections in 2012 and 2014, and found the imbalance is a bipartisan problem. While 96 percent of Republican candidates are white, so are 82 percent of Democrats and 90 percent of independents; woman make up 24 percent of GOP candidates and 33 percent of Democratic candidates.

“This data shows that the problem is not that women and people of color candidates aren’t winning—in fact, they’re winning at the same rates as men and white candidates,” campaign director Brenda Choresi Carter said in the release. “The problem is that the demographics of our office holders are set when our ballots are printed.”

That is, the population that runs for office skews towards those who can afford not to hold a regular, full-time job; people who are connected to political networks; and people who aren’t perceived as “risky” by the political parties, donors, and other gatekeepers who select candidates, the report said.


Suffrage centennial celebration set in Martinez

Contra Costa County will celebrate the centennial anniversary of woman suffrage in California with a five-part lecture series that kicks off Oct. 13.

The county favored a woman’s right to vote by just 21 votes on Oct. 10, 1911, a slim victory reflected throughout California where the measure passed by 2 percentage points.

Sponsored by the Contra Costa County Historical Society, the first lecture by local historian Beverly Lane is called “American Women Fight for Their Rights and Win the Vote In California 1911.” The evening also features Carmen Curtis portraying Alamo pioneer Mary Ann Jones, who registered to vote in 1912 at age 87.

All lectures begin at 7 p.m. at the Veterans Memorial Hall, 930 Ward St., Martinez, for a suggested donation of $5 a person.

The other lectures are:

  • Oct. 20 — Local historian Sandra Threlfall will speak on Maud Younger, a millionaire waitress who founded the Wage Earners Equal Suffrage League
  • Oct. 27 — Diablo Valley College professor Melissa Jacobson on, “Unearthing the Past: Women’s Suffrage in Martinez.”
  • Nov. 3 — Historian Darlene Thorne on, “In Their League: California Suffrage Through Vintage Postcards.”
  • Nov. 10 — Authors Elaine Elinson and Stan Yogi on. “Wherever There’s a Fight: Woman Suffrage and Civil Liberties in California.”

The historical society is also sponsoring a suffrage centennial exhibit through Nov. 23 at its history center, 610 Main St., Martinez. For information and hours, call 925-229-1042 or visit www.cocohistory.com.






Tauscher cancer free, says Post



Former East Bay congresswoman Ellen Tauscher, now under secretary for international security and arms control in the U.S. State Department, is cancer free, according to the Washington Post’s “What Happened To …” segment.

That’s excellent news.

Not long after her 2009 marriage to retired pilot Jim Cieslak, Tauscher  underwent chemotherapy and radiation, and then surgery to remove her esophagus.

These two make a wonderful couple and they deserve many more years together.  My best wishes for a continued clean bill of health!


First all-woman delegation leads Contra Costa

For the first time in Contra Costa County history, all three of its representatives in the California Assembly are women.

That bucks state and national trends, where despite comprising slightly more than half the population, women make up less than a third of the California Legislature, 16 percent of the House of Representatives and 17 out of 100 members of the U.S. Senate.

I sat down in a Contra Costa Times conference room recently with Assemblywomen Nancy Skinner, of Berkeley; Susan Bonilla, of Concord; and Joan Buchanan, of Alamo, where we talked broadly about why women are underrepresented, how to encourage more women to seek public office and how women legislate differently than men.

Read a sampling here of what the women had to say or watch the full video below.


Dem convention: Celebrating women in politics

Mothers of East Bay delegates are Ana Marie Bustos Sr. of Oakleyk, left, and Charu Kapre of Hercules. The women were photographed at a delegate welcoming party at the Democratic National Convention on Sunday, Aug. 24, 2008, by Contra Costa Times reporter Lisa Vorderbrueggen, Their daughters are Hillary Clinton delegates Ana Marie Bustos and Kranti Kapre.

Mothers of East Bay delegates are Ana Marie Bustos Sr. of Oakleyk, left, and Charu Kapre of Hercules. The women were photographed at a delegate welcoming party at the Democratic National Convention on Sunday, Aug. 24, 2008, by Contra Costa Times reporter Lisa Vorderbrueggen, Their daughters are Hillary Clinton delegates Ana Marie Bustos and Kranti Kapre.

Today is the 88th anniversary of women’s suffrage and delegates to the Democratic National Convention celebrated women today with dozens of events.

Click here to read my story in the Contra Costa Times. Pictured on the right are moms of two East Bay delegates; their daughters wanted to share the experience with their mothers.

In a few minutes, Sen. Hillary Clinton, the woman who has gotten closer to the U.S. presidency than any other woman in American history will speak to the delegates on the floor of the convention. Her supporters eagerly await her comments; there has been considerable confusion about how her delegates’ votes will be officially recognized.

Also, click below for a video of Rep. Ellen Tauscher talking about the Day of the Woman. I found her at a reception this afternoon for Californians in downtown Denver.


Dem convention: Michelle speaks to delegates

Michelle Obama, wife of presumptive Democratic nominee Barack Obama, charmed and wooed delegates in the final moments of the convention’s first night, telling the personal story of her and her husband’s courtship and a wife’s view of the man she loves.

But the Obama’s two young daughters veered off script, which is not allowed unless you are under the age of 10.

Onw of the girls asked,”Daddy, where are you?” at the end of their mom’s speech when the magic of technology brought Barack into the Pepsi Center via live satellite feed. Barack was in Kansas City at the private home of a local family introduced as the Gerardos.

The delegates loved the speech, which Michelle delivered flawlessly. Regardless of your political views, Michelle is unquestionably a modern woman who balances work, motherhood and now, a husband running for president.

Here is a quick clip of the moment when she walked out on stage. (Somebody spent a lot of time making these signs!)