Introducing our 2016 FEMALE candidates for President

I know that many of you will dismiss the following diary as premature, but with all of the uproar about Sarah Palin, there is a point that has been lost here. We, in the Democratic Party, remain the more favorable party for female candidates in politics by almost any measure. And we, the Democratic Party, have numerous up-and-coming female candidates that will absolutely be in the running for our Presidential nomination in 2016.

Some are better known than others; most will be well-known within a decade.  But we, as a Party, should recognize that gender equality in politics is not the politics of tokenism, of appointing someone hopelessly overmatched for the position solely on the basis of gender. Rather, gender equality in politics is a Senate and Congress composed of equal parts men and women. Gender equality is a slate of Presidential candidates comprised of equal numbers of men and women.

Sarah Palin, sadly, is not going away. She will almost certainly be a candidate, and perhaps the front-runner, in 2012. She is also the only potential female candidate on the horizon in a party that has long since left women's issues behind. She was their one and only trump card.

On the other hand, there is every reason to believe that our slate of candidates will include at least 4-5 women in 2016.


Current Demographics
Here are the statistics.

Governors: Democrats have five female Governors out of 27 Democratic Governors (18.5%.) Republicans currently have three female Governors out of 23 Republican Governors (13.0%.)

Democrats have 11 female Senators out of 49 Democratic Senators (22.4%.) Republicans currently have five female Senators out of 49 Republican Senators (13.0%.) Both of the two independent Senators are men.

Democrats have 51 female Congresswomen, while Republicans have 20 female Congresswomen. If you've wondered why we've seen so much of Michelle Bachmann from Minnesota this week, it's because there just aren't many other women to choose from in the Republican Congress.


I fully anticipate that the following women could be viable candidates in 2016.

Hillary Rodham Clinton will be 69 on Election Day in 2016. If Hillary continues to back Obama wholeheartedly over the next nine weeks and then eight years, then she will generate buckets of goodwill and political capital among rank-and-file Obama supporters. There is absolutely no reason that Hillary cannot be our candidate in 2016; at a minimum, she would be every bit as viable as she was in 2008, and she would quite likely be the odds-on favorite for the nomination in 2016.

Kathleen Sebelius will be 68 on Election Day in 2016. She may not have been enough of a household name to have won the VP nomination in 2008, but that could change. Her term as Governor of Kansas is up in 2010, and that same year she could well be the favorite for Sam Brownback's open seat in the Senate. If she runs and wins, she could make history as the first Democratic Senator from Kansas since 1939 (!!!). That would position her nicely for a confident run at the Presidency in 2016.

Janet Napolitano will be 58 on Election Day in 2016. Her term as Governor of Arizona will end in 2010, and she will need to find a way to remain relevant until 2016. Aside from a potential Obama cabinet nomination, she will have two golden opportunities to do so. My favorite is a clash of the titans challenge to McCain for his Senate seat in 2010; if she could defeat him, her star would certainly rise to the top of 2016 contenders. (McCain could also retire in 2010.) More realistically, perhaps, she could challenge Jon Kyl for his seat in 2012.

Claire McCaskill will be 63 on Election Day in 2016. If she wins a second term in 2012 (and she potentially could have some formidable challengers), then she might be an attractive possibility in 2016 as a candidate from Missouri.

Sebelius, Napolitano, and McCaskill were the three Senators that supported Obama through the 2008 primary. It is unlikely that all three would attempt a candidacy in 2016, but it is entirely likely that at least one would be a potential candidate.

Amy Klobuchar will be 56 on Election Day in 2016. She might have to face a top-tier challenge from Tim Pawlenty for her 2012 Senate race, but if she does and wins, she'll have ten years in the Senate under her belt to challenge for the Presidency in 2016.

And then, there are a few "we've got next" candidates that we should all keep in our sights:

Stephanie Herseth Sandlin will be 47 on Election Day in 2016. Speculation has been that Herseth Sandlin will run for Governor of South Dakota in 2010, or perhaps will challenge John Thune for his Senate seat. Despite her relative youth, she could have as much as six years of Congressional experience and six years as a Governor in 2016. Especially if she can get out in front of the forthcoming "wind rush" in South Dakota, Herseth Sandlin could be a very serious contender in 2016, and perhaps then again in 2020 and beyond.

Gabrielle Giffords will be 48 on Election Day in 2016. She rose to national prominence last year as she toppled Randy Graf in AZ-08 by a margin of 54-42% - a Republican slayer in a typically Republican district. She has been mentioned as a candidate to succeed Napolitano as Governor of Arizona in 2010, or she might take her own shot at a Senate seat. If she does, she would be well-positioned for 2016 or 2020. Herseth Sandlin and Giffords might well blaze a new prototype to the President - a term (or several, in Herseth Sandlin's case) in Congress, followed by a long term as Governor.

These seven seem most likely, to my eyes. Let's keep our eyes also on Kirsten Gillibrand, who will be 49 in 2016, and Darcy Burner, who will be 45 in 2016 - though we would probably have to find a statewide office first for Gillibrand, and we have to get a foothold for Burner in Congress first.


Unless you actually believe that Condoleeza Rice or Meg Whitman has a future in politics (and I'll take that bet), the Republicans played their one and only trump card with Sarah Palin. I have wondered if the Palin nomination would create something of an "arms race" between the two parties to achieve true gender equality in politics. If this happens, then bring it. We could well see a group such as Clinton, Sebelius, Napolitano, and Herseth Sandlin all in the mix in 2016. Our bench is deep, and we will have a group of competent and accomplished female politicians as options. It is quite clear that we, and not the Republicans, will continue to evolve as the party of gender equality (as well as racial, ethnic, sexual orientation equality.)

Tags: 2016, Amy Klobuchar, Claire McCaskill, Darcy Burner, Gabrielle Giffords, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Janet Napolitano, Kathleen Sebelius, Kirsten Gillibrand, Sarah Palin, Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (all tags)




Governors: We have three female candidates in 11 races this cycle, while Republicans incredibly have none. While Ruth Ann Minter is term-limited in Delaware, we are likely to see Beverly Perdue as the next Governor of North Carolina.
Bev Perdue - NC-GOV

Senators: Mary Landrieu defends her Senate seat this cycle. We will likely have a pickup in New Hampshire with Jeanne Shaheen, and we stand a chance of having Kay Hagan knock of Elizabeth Dole. Incredibly, the Republicans only have one female challenger this cycle, and I'm thinking that Christine O'Donnell might be a little overmatched against Joe Biden.

Jeanne Shaheen - NH-SEN
Kay Hagan - NC-SEN

House: We are in outstanding position to have six pickups for women this cycle in Congress:
Ann Kilpatrick - AZ-1
Debbie Halvorson - IL-1
Linda Stender - NJ-7
Dina Titus - NV-3
Mary Jo Kilroy - OH-15
Darcy Burner - WA-8

...and could put these seven women in striking distance of a seat in Congress.

Betsy Markey - CO-4
Kay Barnes - MO-6
Judy Baker - MO-9
Jill Derby - NV-2
Alice Kryzan - NY-26
Victoria Wulsin - OH-2
Kathy Dahlkemper - PA-3

H/T to this article, from the NYT in May.

by betterdonkeys 2008-09-08 06:35AM | 0 recs
Re: Introducing our 2016 FEMALE candidates

I just can not imagine at all that Obama and Hillary will not have any disagreements if he is President for 8 years and she is a Senator. ANd to think that a disagreement among Hillary and Obama would disqualify Hillary from the 2016 nomination is totally ridiculous.

by whothere 2008-09-08 08:37AM | 0 recs
too much dirt out there on McCaskill

She'd be insane to run for president. As a democrat, at least.

by Mobar 2008-09-08 08:40AM | 0 recs
Re: too much dirt out there on McCaskill

What's the scoop?  I never heard this.  Having Mizzou in the bag in a Presidential election is huge, though.

Darcy "/war" Burner will be promising (I hate how the right is smearing her over spending so long to finish college, but unlike her critics she had to work a lot during school.)

by BlueEngineerInOhio 2008-09-08 09:15AM | 0 recs


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