IN THE RUNNING: The New Woman Candidate by Ruth B. Mandel

IN THE RUNNING: The New Woman Candidate

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A smooth compendium of commonplaces about women-as-political-candidates--true, however, as far as they go--derived from reports on 1976 races throughout the country. In the book's first two major sections, we're reminded why women are running for office more and what obstacles a woman still has to face: projecting an acceptable image (no Bells Abzug ""stridency,"" etc.); public scrutiny of her private life, and public encroachments on it; exclusion from established business, professional, and political groups. Stale if unassailable ""findings,"" in the main--perked up by the occasional excerpted report (like black Kansas Cityan Joanne Collins' reaction to being touted as ""our Barbara Jordan""). Somewhat more instructive are the sections on laying the groundwork for a successful campaign--which most fully utilizes those '76 reports (see especially Texan Ann Richards' method of targeting votes, Minnesotan Arlene Letho's gain by going into business)--and on marshalling resources (where the difficulties for women in raising money are spelled out). The last of the major sections describes the activities of women's political support groups (chiefly, the Women's Campaign Fund and the National Women's Political Caucus) and the problems raised for women candidates by feminist issues--most inescapably, abortion. At this juncture, we hear of women candidates expediently ""playing down"" their ""feminist leanings."" And one also comes to wonder if women will ever attract the financial support given to male candidates unless they too are perceived as pragmatic politicians; in that regard, ex-congresswoman Martha Keys' plug for public campaign funding seems as much to the point as anything here. Overall, the original reports (by local women journalists) would appear to have made a brisker, more applicable book than the bland synthesis that Mandel, head of the Center for Women and Politics at Rutgers, has come up with. But in the absence of anything similarly broad, it will do to hunch discussion.

Pub Date: June 19th, 1981
Publisher: Ticknor & Fields/Houghton Mifflin