Moms to the House

of Representatives that is.  Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

As a longtime scholar of “the politics of parenthood,” I couldn’t resist this NYT article about the political symbolism of moms running for office in 2018:

The symbols of motherhood in American political life have long been comforting and predictable: a gauzy family tableau in campaign ads, with smiling kids gathering for a meal. The ads were meant to disarm voters, to show them that women were running for office to take care of people. It wasn’t about personal ambition — it was about serving others, the way a mom would.

That’s not the motherhood of 2018 political ads. Motherhood in this midterm season is not just a credential for public office. It’s a potent weapon.

Several Democratic candidates tell wrenching stories of their sick children, explaining that the prospect of losing their health insurance had prompted the candidates to run for office. At least two women running for governor, in Wisconsin and Maryland, introduced themselves to voters with scenes of them breast-feeding. And Senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, who on Monday became the first senator to give birth while in officehas been pressing to change a Senate prohibition on bringing children onto the floor, which could impede a breast-feeding mother’s voting…

Several candidates who are mothers cite fears for their children as the root of their support or opposition to gun control. Kelda Roys, who is running in a crowded primary for governor of Wisconsin, described picking up her daughter at preschool and hearing about how she had to hide and be very quiet. Her 3-year-old was describing an active-shooter drill.

Women running for office in both parties have long used their status as mothers to explain their policy stances. Kelly Ayotte, the former Republican senator from New Hampshire, ran an ad that cited her children as a reason to cut wasteful spending, said Kelly Dittmar, a political scientist at the Center for American Women and Politics. Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Republican of Washington, who gave birth to three children while in Congress, cited her son’s Down syndrome to object to those who would abort fetuses with the condition.

By and large, though, Republican portraits of motherhood have tended to be more traditional, Ms. Dittmar said.

Also loved this NPR story about a mom running for Congress who is using her campaign funds to pay for childcare:

BRETT KAPPEL: Campaign funds cannot be used for personal use, and the FEC’s regulations define personal use as any expenditure that would exist irrespective of your status as a candidate.

KURTZLEBEN: So for example, a candidate can’t spend campaign funds on her mortgage or groceries – things she was spending on before she ran for office. But since Grechen Shirley says she wasn’t paying for child care before she ran, Kappel’s opinion is that the FEC’s decision should be simple.

KAPPEL: So in this case, the FEC should allow her to use campaign funds to pay for child care expenses she is incurring only because she’s now a candidate.

KURTZLEBEN: In 1995, the FEC ruled that a candidate could spend campaign funds on child care to allow his wife to occasionally attend events with him. But according to Kappel, this is the first time the FEC will issue an opinion on a campaign paying for child care on an ongoing basis.

Seems pretty open and shut to me, but we’ll see.  And the right ruling on this would certainly encourage more women to run.

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