Denver Women's Commission
Political Consequences - December 2002
Prepared by Chaer Robert
For Zenith Magazine
December 1, 2002
Like parallel tracks, the balance of power shifted at both the state and local levels. At both levels, the Houses of Representatives remained Republican. The executive branch –the Governor and the President—are Republican. At both levels the Democrats lost a one-vote margin in the Senate. This switches Senate leadership and control to Republicans.
What does this mean for women? Certain women’s issues are non-partisan: combating violence against women, collection of child support, and support for the Child Health Plan. Other issues gain far more support from Democrats: reproductive choice, Medicaid coverage, and worker rights such as minimum wage increases and pay equity. Some issues reflect party differences. For example, both Republicans and Democrats are concerned about health insurance coverage. Republicans want to insure that employers can continue to afford coverage for their employees. So proposals like bare-bones coverage alternatives look attractive. Democrats want to expand people’s access to health care. More Democrats would oppose insurance companies’ attempts to drop or carve out people with health problems.
At both the state and national level, women are setting historical firsts for political leadership. At the national level, Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) was overwhelmingly elected House Minority Leader --the first woman to lead either party in either house of Congress. In Colorado, Rep. Lola Spradley (R-Beulah) became the first woman to be elected Speaker of the House. Rep. Jennifer Veiga (D-Denver) will serve as House Minority Leader. Senate Republicans elected Sen. Norma Anderson as their Majority Leader for 2003, while Democrats elected Sen. Joan Fitz-Gerald as their Minority Leader. With state revenues down more than 10% over last year, their leadership will be tested.