A year from now, California will have elected its next governor. And as of today, we don't have a single Democratic candidate officially in the running.
For the 7 million declared Democrats in California, the only plausible option (if he decides to formally announce his candidacy) is California Attorney General Jerry Brown, who served as Governor of the state 30 years ago.
And with women making up 53% of California voters , 2 female U.S. Senators, a female Secretary of State, and more women elected to the U.S. House of Representatives than any other state in the country, I can't help but wonder: 1) why is it that California still has yet to elect a female as Governor? And 2) why haven't any of these Democratic women decided to run in 2010?
It is no surprise that people--men and women--are reluctant to throw their hats in the ring for the position. The budget disaster, the economy, and the stalemate in Sacramento are not encouraging signs for a career politician. If ever there was a time to sit one out, this is it.
But the lives and livelihoods of millions of people hang in the balance. If California doesn't get its act together, there will be dire consequences, and many if not all of the gains we have made toward building a just and equal society will be torn away.
Additionally, Brown running un-opposed in the Democratic primaries for one of the most liberal states in the nation deprives us of fundamental components of the democratic and election process: debate, having a choice to vote between a difference in vision and approach to leadership, and the battle-testing of candidates for the general election.
So female career politicians aren't up to the challenge? Fine. California needs to elect Rosie the Riveter for governor.
We need someone who plainly sees what is at stake, and in the face of the fear and the pressure, will roll up her sleeves and get to work. And there is no better time than now to break new ground by electing a woman Governor of California. We need leadership that is not only representative of our population, but is responsive on all fronts--politically, socially, culturally, and economically-- and research has shown that women, for whatever reason, consistently model this in public office (Check out publications from The White House Project and Rutgers' Center for American Women and Politics for a range of information on the impact of women leaders in our nation and in our world).
This is a call to all business women, mothers, teachers, social service workers, and engineers--all of you. Throw your hat in the ring. And if not in this race, think about another. And if not now, consider it in the future.
We are a state that has taken chances, pioneered for change, and consistently disrupted the status quo.
Let's stay true to our track record.
If there is a time to bring a herstory of change into the 2010 Gubernatorial election, it is now.