Marshall Will Face Runoff in NC, Brunner Loses OH Primary
Two women Secretaries of State, both feminists, put in strong performances in the first Democratic primaries of the election season for US Senate. The races resulted in a runoff election on June 22 for Elaine Marshall (D) in North Carolina and the loss of Jennifer Brunner (D) in Ohio in her primary. Marshall failed to achieve 40 percent of the vote, which would have avoided a runoff election.
In North Carolina, Marshall obtained 36 percent of the vote, just 4 percent shy of the number needed to avoid a runoff election. "As of the most recent reporting, Marshall had only three quarters of the funding of Cunningham, but she was able to win because of tremendous grassroots support, especially from women," said Smeal. She will face former North Carolina state Senator Cal Cunningham, who obtained 27 percent of the vote yesterday, in the runoff election. According to the Southern Political Report, other candidates received a higher percentage of votes than expected. Ken Lewis, a well-known African-American attorney, received 17 percent and three other minor candidates obtained a combined total of 19 percent of the vote.
Marshall is the first woman to be elected to executive office in North Carolina and has served 4 terms as Secretary of State. She is a strong supporter of women's rights who supports a woman's right to choose, passage of the International Violence Against Women Act and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination (CEDAW), and repeal of the Hyde Amendment, Don't Ask, Don't Tell, and the Defense of Marriage Act.
If Marshall wins the June runoff election, she will face Republican incumbent Senator Richard Burr in November. Burr has voted no on numerous bills that benefit women, including the Lilly Ledbetter Pay Act and the Franken Amendment to promote justice for women who are raped.
In Ohio, Brunner lost in the Democratic primary to Lieutenant Governor Lee Fisher. Fisher will run for an open seat in November against Republican Rob Portman, who is a former Congressman from Ohio and served as budget director and US trade representative under former President George W. Bush.
With most precincts reporting, Fisher had 55 percent of the vote and Brunner had 45 percent, according to the Plain Dealer. Brunner was the first female Secretary of State of Ohio and aimed to be the state's first woman Senator. "Jennifer Brunner is an excellent candidate who put in a strong performance despite being extremely underfunded," said Eleanor Smeal, President of the Feminist Majority. According to Open Secrets, Brunner was outspent more by more than 4 to 1.
During her tenure as Secretary of State, Brunner led desperately needed reforms of Ohio's election system to ensure a smooth election in 2008. On the issues, Brunner supported health care reform, a woman's right to choose, access to birth control, marriage equality and banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
Many women's rights organizations, including the Feminist Majority, endorsed and supported both Brunner and Marshall.
Media Resources: Plain Dealer 5/5/10; Southern Political Report 5/5/10; Feminist Majority PAC Candidate Profiles; Interview with Eleanor Smeal 5/5/10