Women candidates and money: Another double standard?


A woman can either be a prude or promiscuous. Too pretty or too masculine. A shrew or a doormat. As women try to tip-toe somewhere in the middle, we find that one small move can send us plunging straight into one of the extremes.

And of course, politics is not free of these dichotomies: Sarah Palin is hot. Hillary is mean. Martha Coakley is a Jezebel.

But lately I’ve noticed a new double standard arising: Women candidates either have too much money or not enough. money-bag

Let’s look at two different races: Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner running for U.S. Congress and Linda McMahon running for Senate in Connecticut. 

From the beginning, Jennifer Brunner has been told she shouldn’t run
for Senate because she’s such a good Secretary of State. They need her
there. This is one of the most classically lame “reasons” given to
women as to why they shouldn’t run for higher office. 

On top of that, she’s now being assaulted by her own party about her fundraising. Bob Menendez of the DSCC is threatening not to support her
until she raises more money—despite the fact that many are saying she’s
the only hope for a Democratic win (Lee Fisher reportedly lost his last
two campaigns, despite outraising his opponent).

Unfortunately, we all know that fundraising is a necessary component
of political campaigns. (That’s a whole different rant for a different
day). However, I have to ask—would Menendez be pulling support from the
more viable male candidate who wasn’t raising as much as his
less-viable opponent?

Now let’s look at Linda McMahon. The former chief executive of WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment), she apparently has too much money.
Though hundreds of male candidates have self-funded their way to
elected office, McMahon is being accused of trying to buy the seat.

Again, all personal feelings about campaign financing aside, I have
to say that it’s nice to finally see a successful woman using her
wealth to run for office. Men have been doing it for decades, so for
better or for worse, seeing a woman have that same ability gives me
some sense of satisfaction.

But I do wonder what kind of double standard women in politics will
face next. I’m sure 2010 will unfold some new gems for us, as well as
reignite some old classics.

Cross-posted from Women and Politics.org.

Like this story? Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

To schedule an interview with Lauren Martin please contact Communications Director Rachel Perrone at rachel@rhrealitycheck.org.