Darcy Burner has never held public office — the former Microsoft project manager is just 35 — but nonetheless she appears to have a good shot at becoming the first Democratic representative from Washington’s Eighth District. The timing of her bid is propitious: in this scandal-saturated election year, her lack of political experience may be a boon. And the fact that Burner is an adept fund-raiser has fueled her quick rise. There’s another, slightly more intangible factor at play, too: Evergreen-state residents are accustomed to female leadership. “You don’t have the hurdle of convincing voters that women can do the job when the models include people without a Y chromosome,” Burner told me recently. And in fact, Washington is the only state in the nation where both senators and the governor are women.
Of course, even this year, some of the Western women challengers will fall short. Incumbents aren’t shoo-ins, either. Senator Maria Cantwell, a Washington State Democrat, is facing a tough re-election challenge. Nevertheless, given the region’s more transparent political parties and history, it is well poised to retain its status as an incubator of female leadership. That may bode well for Senator Hillary Clinton if she decides to make a bid for the presidency. She would have trouble carrying states in the South, but if Western voters extend their embrace of female leadership to the highest levels of government, a promotion from the Senate to the White House could be within her reach.
Sunday, October 29, 2006
Darcy in the NY Times today (hat tip to the Gen. JC Christian, patriot):