How can you call yourself a feminist and vote for Garamendi? No one in that race has done more for women than Jackie Speier. She created the Office of Women's Health in the Department of Health Services, she authored the Contraceptive Equity Act, and even carried the resolution adopting the ERA in California. Her list of accomplishments in this area goes on and on, unlike those of her competitor.
I don't know if Kyle is a campaign worker for Speier, but his comment exasperates me. I have never felt that holding feminist principles required that one always vote for female candidates. There's no question that Speier (and state senator Figueroa, who represents the area in Northern California where my family has a ranch) both have solid progressive credentials. On women's issues, Garamendi has been rock solid throughout his public career. Indeed, I know of no substantive women's issue where any of the three candidates differ from each other.
If the three were applying for a position as a women's studies professor, I'd likely vote to hire Speier based on her longer track record in feminist legislation. But it's possible to be a strong and committed feminist and also NOT a single-issue voter! I'm pro-feminist, yes -- but I'm also a long-time Sierra Club member and a fairly ardent environmentalist. Garamendi has the Sierra Club endorsement and the best track record of the three on environmental issues. From a broad progressive perspective, it ends up being a wash.
Feminism makes some serious political and personal claims on my life. That's as it should be. But I don't think that feminists must automatically vote for female candidates when they are running against equally qualified men. Yes, I recognize that men still hold most elected offices. We can and should do more to encourage women to run. But that shouldn't mean that a progressive woman has an automatic claim on feminist support when she runs against an equally progressive male candidate.
If you think about it, it sure puts women of color in a difficult position! If you're a feminist Latina, does that mean you must vote for Liz Figueroa? Once we start playing identity politics, things get nasty fast.
I ought not to have been so flip as to imply that I had chosen Garamendi out of three qualified candidates merely because he was a former star Cal football player. Former Los Angeles County Supervisor Pete Schabarum was a magnificent running back at Cal, but a far-right Republican, and I certainly was relieved when he was replaced by Gloria Molina, a Latina Democrat. I would never, ever vote for a candidate based merely on his or her athletic history, especially if that meant overlooking serious problems with that candidate's record.
Ultimately, it was a close call. I went with Garamendi for his superior environmental record, and because I've followed his career for years. He was a good insurance commissioner, and I'm confident he would make a fine Lieutenant Governor; I suspect Speier or Figueroa would do well in this rather unimportant office as well. But I resent the hell out of the notion that feminism requires that all else being equal, one always must vote for a woman.