Democratic Candidate Tells Fellow Legislator She’s Too Young And Inexperienced For A Congressional Run

Democratic Legislator Mark Pocan thinks he’s the best choice to take over Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin’s vacant seat in 2012, because he’s good at “working across party lines.” Too bad he’s not quite so good at working with women.

Pocan is campaigning against fellow Wisconsin legislator and Democrat Kelda Helen Roys.  Both are state representatives, Pocan for 14 years, Roys for 4. But according to Pocan, he would make a better Congressional Representative, because Roys doesn’t have enough “experience.” And he doesn’t mean by serving in office.

Via JS Online:

For his part, Pocan said Roys’ legislative experience isn’t enough.

“Kelda will have a bright future,” he said. “But at this point, you have to crawl before you walk and walk before you run.”

Roys said she’s proud of her record, noting others have been elected to Congress at her age and with her level of experience.

Numerous people of both sexes have run for federal office, often with no political experience at all. But unfortunately, the adages of “waiting in line,” “paying your dues” and other attempts to talk candidates out of running for higher office are often more persuasive to female candidates than to male ones, according to a 2009 Center for American Women in Politics study.

Does Roys, with a law degree, 4 years as the head of Wisconsin NARAL Pro-Choice, and a term in the state legislature really not “experienced” enough to be a Congresswoman? Or is Pocan’s advice to “crawl first” another dismissive, gendered attack on a qualified, female candidate?

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  • badgergurl1982gmailcom

    Are you sure you have this right?  This is the guy that authored – and I think helped to pass Compassionate Care act — giving women who are raped total access to contraception at any hospital in Wisconsin…

    Is he talking about women here – or just the fact that she only has 3 years in the Assembly?  

  • robin-marty

    I don’t think he’s by any means sexist.  But these are the comments that are most often said to female candidates, as if they have to earn it on a different level.  Had he said “I have more experience” and pointed to his additional years in the legislature, etc, that would have been one thing.  But often people don’t notice the double standard that even unconsciously they contribute to by insinuating that a female candidate needs to do more to earn it, and cannot go into a race without extensive experience in both the legislature, public policy, and other qualifications.


    There are at least 5 congressman under age 40 currently serving in the House.  All are men. Most had no previously held office. The others have just a few years in state legislature.  But women are often told they need to wait in line or earn their spots and that their qualifications aren’t enough.  Purposeful or unintentional, that’s what Pocan is saying, and that’s the culture he is contributing to.