Wednesday, September 28th, 2016

The education of Barbara Lawton

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Lt. Gov. Barbara Lawton consented to an interview on WLUK-11 in Madison Ashwaubenon regarding her sudden decision to withdraw from the race for governor.  Lawton blamed a conspiracy to prevent women from raising the money to become governor.

 “There’s a variety of factors but including a way that people who control resources and thinking and press even that conspire whether intentionally or not that make it more of a challenge for women,” she said.

 Wisconsin is one of 27 states around the country which has never had a female governor. Lawton was seen by many as Wisconsin’s best chance for a woman to move into the governor’s office.

 Many people thought you would be the one to break that barrier.

 “I wanted to be the one to change that,” Lawton said.

 Is it tougher for women?

 “Yes of course it’s tougher for women there’s a different way that we are or aren’t covered by the press,” she said.

 You must not think Wisconsin is ready for a female governor?

 “I hate to admit that,” she confided.

 Is Wisconsin ready for a woman governor?  Hard to imagine that it isn’t.  Given the recent overwhelming re-election of a woman as chief justice of the state supreme court, and the election of other women to the state supreme court, it would seem that women can be competitive in state-wide races in Wisconsin.  We have also had a woman as state attorney general and women as state treasurers.  The last two lieutenant governors have been women.  While the objective of a woman in the governor’s office has been unobtainable so far, the evidence suggests that the voters are ready for that possibility.

 So let’s consider the other factors she mentioned divorced from the gender issue.  Surely she knew that she was going to have difficulty raising money before entering the race.  She also had to know that there would be a preference by many within the party for anybody but her.

 If anything, Lawton had done surprisingly well in gathering support prior to Barrett’s entry into the race.  While Barrett dithered, Lawton was getting endorsements and donations right up to the moment she quit. 

Which brings us back to her original explanation, left still not clarified in this interview.  None of the explanations constitute “very personal” reasons for withdrawing.  These are all highly public reasons for withdrawing, and were widely understood conditions of the campaign even before she declared her candidacy.  None of these reasons explain the silence following her announcement of ending her campaign.  None of these reasons even explain the odd way she chose to end her campaign.

 We may never know why Lawton withdrew from the race, but let’s not pretend that she’s some sort of martyr for feminism.

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