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Women Leading: How Wisconsin Is Showing Us The Future

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There was much to be inspired by in Wisconsin yesterday, where voters headed to the polls to cast their ballots in the Democratic primaries for the largest recall elections in the state's history. What gets me fired up the most is that of the six Republican senators who backed Governor Walker's radical agenda and now face recall elections, five are being challenged by strong, determined pro-choice Democratic women, who want to shift the focus back to the real priorities of Wisconsin families. Think about that! Five out of six. I'm so proud of all these women: Nancy Nusbaum, Sandy Pasch, Shelly Moore, Jessica King and Jennifer Shilling.

These women are teachers, nurses, small business owners, and community leaders. They're moms, sisters, daughters, wives. Their roots go deep in Wisconsin and they know what really matters to Wisconsin families. Earlier this long, hot summer, EMILY's List made the decision to go all out -- to do everything we can to ensure these women are elected. We've been on air, on the ground and online, working to educate and remind voters that earlier this year, Governor Scott Walker and his Republican allies attacked Wisconsin workers, women and their families. Walker and his allies in the legislature pulled the rug out from under their constituents -- gutting education by $800 million while handing out huge tax breaks to corporations and the super rich, attacking health care, and ending public employees' ability to band together and negotiate fair wages.

All the work of these great women candidates and the EMILY's List community paid off yesterday, when our women triumphed, despite the ruthless and deceptive tactics employed by the GOP. First, the Wisconsin GOP actually drafted Republican candidates to run as Democrats, in order to force a primary and delay the general election. Now, I've been around quite a few races in my time and I thought nothing could surprise me any more -- but the Wisconsin Republicans have really taken dirty tricks to a whole new level. This wasn't a quiet, backroom plan -- it was openly embraced and promoted by Wisconsin Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald. Then, allies actively campaigned to get Republicans to go vote in the Democratic primaries for the fake candidates. There were even allegations of attempts to keep Democratic voters at home. Make no mistake: the GOP in Wisconsin will clearly do just about anything to hold on to power.

But Wisconsin voters and Wisconsin families weren't fooled by these shenanigans. Now that our Democratic women have prevailed over these dirty, underhanded tactics, EMILY's List will continue to use every tool available to ensure that they make history and defeat the Republicans who abandoned women and punished their families come August. We will be there every step of the way because we want Wisconsin women to know that they have the chance to say NO to the Republican's extremist, anti-worker, anti-woman and anti-family policies, and YES to progressive women who will fight every single day in the state senate to advance Wisconsin values and will support Wisconsin families.

Fundamentally, workers' rights are a women's issue. The public employees Governor Walker and his minions are targeting are teachers, local government workers, health and home care attendants. These are all predominantly female industries. Nationwide elementary school teaching is 95% female, and nursing is 90% female. These women deserve to keep their right to join together for a fair wage in order to provide for their families, especially in an economy where more and more women are the sole income earners for their households.

This summer, I've been all over the country. I've talked to women in Texas, Montana, Maine, Illinois, and everywhere in between. It's hard enough out there -- with women making 78 cents on the dollar compared to men -- without legislators making it harder, and women have noticed, trust me. In Wisconsin, women voters know what an uphill struggle it is to keep families stable and thriving when the government puts corporate profits over bread-and-butter priorities like access to health care, decent education for their children, and a fair wage. And in Wisconsin, we're seeing the future: replacing the legislators who sold women and their families out with women who will fight for us every day.

Because what's happened in Wisconsin isn't unique. The right wing agenda being pushed by Scott Walker and his cronies is being pushed by Republicans in Ohio. In Florida. In states throughout the country. Republicans have waged an all out war on American women, and the GOP's overreach across the country and particularly in Wisconsin have sparked a national wave of buyers' remorse. Now the EMILY's List community -- nearly one million strong -- is fired up and fighting back.

Our time is now because the stakes are simply too high. What we're seeing in Wisconsin -- women and families saying, no more, and fighting for elect strong, practical, pro-woman, pro-family Democratic women can and will happen in states throughout the country. At EMILY's List, we're going to take the momentum from Wisconsin and use it to elevate women's voices and women's rights everywhere.

It's not magic -- it's hard work. It's women making some time to join Team EMILY -- calling voters in critical races and talking about what's at stake. It's women (and men!) looking at that weekly budget and figuring out if there's just a little left over to help some other EMILY's List woman run for office. It's knocking on doors and driving folks to the polls no matter how hot it is. Because on election day in Wisconsin in August, we'll see five amazing women elected to set the state on a new path. And that new path will take us through small towns in the Midwest, big cities in the southwest, from coast and everything in between -- changing the direction of our country by electing pro-choice Democratic women. Women like Shelly Moore, a teacher who's fighting back against cuts to the classroom by running for office herself. Like Jessica King, who worked her way from foster care through law school and into public service, and who knows what supports families need to thrive. Join us to elect women like them in Wisconsin and throughout the country.

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