- The Washington Times - Monday, January 31, 2000

Hillary Rodham Clinton faces fewer obstacles in her New York Senate race than most female candidates, but history still is not on her side.
* New York voters never have elected a woman statewide in her own right, despite the state's liberal reputation and prominence as the birthplace of women's voting rights.
* While women are winning more districtwide elections, they are failing to win large numbers of statewide positions such as U.S. senator and governor.
* More than two-thirds of the female Senate candidates who made it onto general election ballots in the past decade lost their races.
* New York also consistently ranks below average in electing women to its state legislature.
"It's stunning that you have not had more women leading in political life in New York," said Marie C. Wilson, president of the White House Project, a New York City-based group helping propel women into higher offices.
Ms. Wilson and other experts say the first lady already has overcome the biggest hurdles that typically keep women from running for the Senate or derail their success. They include money, name recognition, support from their families and their parties, a battle against an incumbent and a potentially bloodying primary fight.
The first lady is running unopposed for an open Senate seat with record support from the Democratic Party.
"New York has been very kind to Mrs. Clinton as first lady," said Republican National Committee co-chairman Pat Harrison, a Brooklyn native. "Now that she wants to run for the Senate, she'll be in the rough and tumble world of New York politics."
One casualty of that world said being a woman will not damage Mrs. Clinton's chances.
"I do think she's going to win it," said Geraldine Ferraro, a former Democratic House member who lost two bids for the Senate in New York after becoming the first female vice presidential candidate of a major party. "I don't think being a women is going to hurt her at all. I think it's going to help her."
Mrs. Ferraro expects the race "to be terrifically close" and says Mrs. Clinton should improve her showing in the polls. She is trailing New York City Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani by about nine points.
"The polls in January of 1998 showed me 40 points ahead of [Current New York Democratic Sen. Charles E.] Schumer," she said.
Mr. Schumer went on to beat her 51 percent to 26 percent in a three-way primary fight before he unseated Republican Sen. Alfonse D'Amato.
Mrs. Ferraro said if she had to do it over again she would not have run in 1998, in part because of the difficulty in raising enough money.
In Mrs. Clinton's unopposed race, she is hoping to raise $25 million with the help of two Democratic Party fund-raising committees created to assist her.
Being in the spotlight as first lady helps her raise more money and provides her the instant name recognition that many female candidates lack, experts say. But that also could prove to be a liability.
Her "national political visibility" as President Clinton's wife could hurt her "because of all the things that people don't like" about him, said Susan Carroll, a political scientist at the Center for American Women in Politics at Rutgers University, which tracks female candidates.
She and other experts say that Mrs. Clinton has not escaped every problem that often dogs female candidates, including the dilemma of getting voters and the media to focus on issues rather than her personal life.
Mrs. Clinton's position as first lady did help her escape a costly primary battle from which few female Senate candidates typically emerge. Rep. Nita M. Lowey stepped aside to let her run.
"[Mrs. Lowey] could have been a formidable candidate for the Senate and might have won," said Richard Born, an expert in congressional races at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. "People were saying nobody knew her; she was just a House member. Charlie Schumer was just a House member as well."
Mr. Born places the odds of Mrs. Clinton beating Mr. Giuliani "at a little less than 50-50."
"Both of them are their own worst enemy. As long as you have two very deeply flawed candidates, it's a race that can go either way," he said.
While he does not believe New York is inherently more unfriendly to women than other states, it has posed problems for women historically.
New York ranks 30th among the 50 states for electing women to its state legislature down 9 points from 1979, statistics from the Center for American Women in Politics show. Washington state ranks first with 41 percent compared with 21 percent in New York.
Washington Sen. Patty Murray, who is recruiting women Senate candidates as vice chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, attributes women's success in her state to their longtime involvement in local politics and community work.
Nationwide, the 47 women who made it onto the general election ballot for Senate in the past 10 years lost 68 percent of the time. Nine percent nine of the 100 senators are women. Women make up 52 percent of the population.

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