'Feisty, Jewish grandmother' to run for Lieutenant Governor of NJ

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New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine (Dem) has picked Loretta Weinberg to be his running mate for lieutenant governor.  The JTA reports that this "marks the first time a Jewish woman is running for state-wide office in New Jersey."

The JTA article does not paint a pretty picture of the history of women in New Jersey politics.

Democrats haven’t run a woman for state-wide office since 1930, when, according to Politickernj.com, “they picked 32-year-old Thelma Parkinson to run for a two-month unexpired term in the U.S. Senate in 1930.  She lost to Republican Dwight Morrow (Charles Lindbergh's father-in-law) by a 59%-39% margin.” Democrats haven’t sent a woman to Congress from New Jersey since 1979.

The only woman ever to serve state-wide in New Jersey is former governor Christie Todd Whitman (Republican); none has served as a U.S. senator. There are currently no women from New Jersey serving in Congress. Only five women have ever represented New Jersey in Congress -- two Democrats and three Republicans, including Millicent Fenwick, who, with her pearls and pipe, remains one of New Jersey’s few memorable female political characters.

There may be a connection between Weinberg's nomination and the recent bad juju going on in the New Jersey Jewish community.  The JTA article goes on to say:

In New Jersey, women tend to get elected when men get arrested. According to Rutgers University’s Center for American Women and Politics, in 2004 New Jersey ranked 43rd out of 50 states in terms of women serving in state legislatures. After a spate of what the Center’s director Debbie Walsh termed “legal problems” led to the departure of entrenched male officials, women were elected in record numbers. New Jersey now ranks 11th in the nation.

Reading between the lines, I cannot help but wonder if Weinberg's nomination is tainted by the notion that a "feisty, Jewish grandmother" might heal the wounds inflicted by corrupt, Jewish men. Was that the premise on which she was chosen? I hope not.

Regardless of my paranoia, this is an exciting moment for Jewish women in politics. Weinberg's nomination is a wonderful opportunity to (finally) see a woman hold state-wide office in New Jersey.  Mazel tov Loretta, and good luck!

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