What's at Stake for Women in the Midterms: Part 2 -- Hundreds of GOP Candidates With Women Problems

At stake this election is defeating a wave of anti-woman Republican candidates who have in common insensitivity, suspicious ties to violence, and open beliefs in gender inequality.
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Part 2 in a series, read Part 1 here.

At stake this election is defeating a wave of anti-woman Republican candidates who have in common insensitivity, suspicious ties to violence, and open beliefs in gender inequality.

Putting this roundup together was not enjoyable. In fact, I feel a little ill as I write it. This list looks well beyond the familiar roster of philanderers and sexual hypocrites (hello, Senator Ensign, Governor Sanford, & Representative Souder!). It even gives the Rand Paul Aqua Buddha kidnapping a brief respite. But even with those guys off the list, there was plenty of material.

This isn't to say that there aren't Democrats with messy divorces, sexual peccadilloes, or "salty language." But these examples belie a consistent lack of interest in, understanding of, or even downright hostility toward women's issues.

Gross insensitivity

Ken Buck (CO-Sen) first earned his spot on this list when he said "not wearing high heels" qualified him for the job. Then recently an alleged rape victim who dealt with Buck during his time as Prosecutor came forward to say he "put the blame" on her. Buck worried to a reporter that a jury might think the victim had a case of "buyer's remorse." That's what Coloradans will feel if Buck wins in November.

Carl Paladino (NY-Gov) hit the trifecta of sexist, racist, and homophobic statements and emails. But he doesn't just make the list for forwarding numerous sexually explicit emails and videos to a huge distribution list. He also makes the list for his path to victory, which includes only his fellow email connoisseurs. "To any of the ladies I've offended, I apologize. I say this to the men out there who have never opened a graphic image on the Internet: Don't vote for me. For those who have, I welcome your vote."

Tom Marino (PA-10) criticized Democrat incumbent Chris Carney for not co-sponsoring a bill prior to its introduction. When Carney revealed he was with his wife during her breast cancer surgery, Marino pushed forward, instead of pulling back. He claimed Carney was "hiding behind his wife's illness." Marino also tried, unsuccessfully, to help a friend and convicted felon get his criminal record expunged. The felon-friend went on to try to choke his girlfriend.

Dan Benishek (MI-1) repeatedly tried to lower the child support he paid his wife to care for their three children. Benishek's ex-wife earned less than $25,000 a year, and represented herself in court, arguing that Benishek's income was closer to half a million dollars, not the $140,000 he claimed. It raises questions about how he might fight for struggling families, or for closing tax loopholes.

John Loughlin (RI-1) voted to allow people accused of domestic violence to keep their guns. When challenged, Loughlin balked, "you're suggesting I want to supply criminals with guns." So it's okay for domestic abusers to keep their own guns, just not be supplied new guns? Maybe Loughlin should read about some of the folks in the next section.

Ties to violence

Jeff Perry (MA-10), a former police sergeant, did nothing to help a 14-year-old girl being illegal strip searched by another officer. Radio stations have taken down ads discussing the incident, even though the victim herself has now spoken out. Said the victim (now in her thirties), "he had to hear me screaming and crying. Instead of helping me, Jeff Perry denied anything happened." Perry was also accused of covering up a second illegal strip search of a minor (by the same officer) but that lawsuit was dismissed.

Tom Ganley (OH-13): In this well-publicized incident, a woman interested in volunteering for Ganley claims she was instead met with groping, sexual harassment, and discrimination. Ganley suggested the woman wear a leash, and meet some of his "play friends." Ganley has subsequently drawn down his media buy.

Allen West (FL-22) has been a defender of "the Outlaws," a motorcycle gang known for treating women like pass-around property. West is also a regular columnist for the magazine "Wheels on the Road." An example of the magazine's rhetorical flourishes: calling women "oral relief stations." I'm not linking to the magazine. You'll just have to imagine.

David Rivera (FL-25), a Republican rising star and former roommate of Senate candidate Marco Rubio continues to face allegations of past domestic violence. Both Rivera and the victim claim he is not the David Rivera in the legal complaint, but there are several ties between the two, and inconsistencies in his campaign's story. When this issue came up in a previous campaign, Rivera's his car got into a fender-bender with a truck delivering campaign mail.

David Vitter (LA-Sen)'s own personal proclivities aside, he used terrible judgment in keeping on a senior aide convicted of assaulting his girlfriend. The aide kept his ex-girlfriend against her will, stabbed her with a knife, and destroyed her phone to prevent her from calling for help. The aide's job in the Senate office? Handling women's issues. According to reports, Vitter only fired the aide when a drunk driving charge also emerged.

Defending inequality

Dan Webster (FL-08). While some found Grayson's "Taliban Dan" ad a bit strong, Dan Webster has close ties to a group promoting strict rules for women. The group's leader believe wives should be "submissive" and "obedient," to their husbands. Oh, and then there are the rules about women being unclean during their monthly cycles and after giving birth (longer after the birth of a daughter, of course). Webster, as Speaker of the Florida House, recruited other Republican legislators into the group.

Ralph Hudgens (GA Insurance Comm). Much like Senator Kyl (AZ-Sen) , Hudgens opposes mandatory coverage of medical care he doesn't personally need. Specifically, he mentions maternity care, mammograms, and pap smears. No mention of whether he wants to pay for health care treatments for his fellow 67-year-old men.

Christine O'Donnell (DE-Sen). Being a woman doesn't keep you off this list. O'Donnell has said women "cripple" our defense readiness, and that West Point would have to "lower their standards...in order for men and women to compete." But would they be required to know the First Amendment?

All (but three) Republican Congressional incumbents and all (but four) Republican Senate incumbents. Republicans stood squarely against workplace equality for women when they voted against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. The Act would make it easier for women to take action against employers not paying them same as men for the same job. Two of the four Republican Senators were subsequently cast out of their own party.

Anyone with a knee-jerk plan to repeal health insurance reform. Before health care reform, insurance companies could consider being a woman, or even being a domestic violence victim, a pre-existing condition. They could also deny coverage for mammograms or maternity care. So Republicans promoting a repeal of health care would in fact repeal these policies. Extremists like Sharron Angle (NV-Sen) say there should be no health care mandates at all. Does a Republican candidate have anything smart to say about reform other than angrily blurting out "Obamacare"? If not, add them to the list.

Empty talk about mama grizzlies won't prevent the trail of tears these leaders could leave in their wake. This list was a bit stomach-churning. But let's take a collective prevacid and get back to work.

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