With almost half of all open gubernatorial seats pursued by women candidates, the September 10 primaries closed with some clear gains for women’s rights across the country. In Maryland, Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend won the Democratic primary. Endorsed by the Maryland chapter of the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League (NARAL), she will face Republican opponent Rep. Robert Ehrlich. Two other Democratic, pro-choice candidates for governor, Myrth York of Rhode Island and Janet Napolitano of Arizona, also both won their primaries.
However, former Clinton Attorney General Janet Reno appears to have lost her bid for governor in Florida. The results have not been officially released, but her opponent, attorney Bill McBride, was in the lead, according to the Associated Press. The Florida vote suffered many difficulties, including complications arising from short-staffed polling sites, mechanical difficulties with the polling machines, and damage to ballots, among others. These problems occurred despite Florida’s $32 million initiative to revamp its voting procedures after the fiasco in the state during the 2000 presidential election. Reno is considering filing suit to contest the election results.
Other pro-choice female candidates who won their primaries include Jeanne Shaheen, currently governor of New Hampshire, who will face off against Rep. John Sununu for one of the state’s seats in the US Senate. In addition, Carol Roberts in Florida and Martha Fuller Clark in New Hampshire won their Democratic primaries for US House seats.
In North Carolina, Republican Elizabeth Dole, who has been endorsed by the North Carolina Right to Life political action committee that has said Dole will “oppose publicly funded abortions, support parental consent laws and oppose so-called Ôpartial-birth’ abortions,” won the Republican primary. Dole will face off against former Clinton Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles, a pro-choice businessman, in a battle for the seat of retiring right-wing Sen. Jesse Helms.