NO PLACE FOR A WOMAN
Camarillo businesswoman Beth Rogers had to be among the most disappointed people in the state last week when Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger made his first venture into coat-tails politics by endorsing former Secretary of State Bill Jones for the Republican nomination to the U.S. Senate.
Rogers has long been a vocal — and mostly lonely — advocate for getting more women Republicans elected to office in California. She was a founder of the Seneca Network, established to raise money for women Republican candidates, and two years ago put a considerable amount of her own money where her heart is by pouring $1 million into an unsuccessful challenge against Democratic Congresswoman Lois Capps of Santa Barbara.
She had also been a big backer of Schwarzenegger and was appointed to serve on the governor-elect's transition team to help recruit people to work in his administration.
Schwarzenegger's endorsement of Jones will make the challenge of winning the GOP nomination even more formidable for former U.S. Treasurer Rosario Marin, the candidate Rogers is backing.
The Republican Party establishment, including many of those advising Schwarzenegger, still doesn't get it, Rogers told me today. Since 1994, she noted, the number of Republicans holding elected state and federal positions in California has dropped from 94 to 66. It's easy enough to figure out why, she says — just look at a picture of the Legislature and the California congressional delegation. You will spot 60 women — 54 of whom are Democrats.
"Everybody has a shot at being given a seat at the table if you're a Democrat," Rogers said. "You cannot be at the policy table if you're a woman Republican."
In large part because of the party's failure to recruit and support woman candidates, she believes that "1 million Republican women voters have gone AWOL."
It is the hope of many centrist Republicans such as Rogers that Schwarzenegger will be the person who can lead them out of the minority-party wilderness
But in their view, last week was a setback. They see Schwarzenegger's embrace of Jones as more politics as usual among California Republicans.