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05.26.10

Sarah Palin's 'Mama Grizzlies'

The Alaska sensation is recruiting and endorsing GOP women nationwide—spooking the Democrats. Mark McKinnon surveys her 11 top prospects.

I like strong women.

I like strong women who speak their minds. (I’m married to one of them.) And I’ve worked with and around many in politics, including Ann Richards, Laura Bush and Sarah Palin.

No matter your gender or politics, you have to hand it to her: Palin is fearless. “You don't want to mess with moms who are rising up,” the Wasilla warrior said last week. “If you thought pit bulls were tough, you don't want to mess with mama grizzlies.” The Democratic Governors Association immediately took the bait.

Whether you agree with them or not, it’s the women of the GOP—like Sarah Palin, Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann and Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer—who are tough enough to say exactly what they think.

From the group’s May 22nd fundraising email:

“Only Sarah Palin would think an army of “mama grizzlies” is a good idea. She is building one—made of right-wing governors.

“Palin is on an endorsement spree—in just this past week she's thrown her fundraising power and media savvy behind far-right candidates for governor in South Carolina and New Mexico with more that are sure to come.

“Why? Because Sarah Palin has plans...Help stop Palin's plan to create an army of right-wing governors before it is too late.”

Curious, isn’t it? For a woman described as “ someone with a pretty face who lacks substance,” Palin sure gets flattered with obsessive attention by her opponents and the media.

With the growing disconnect between the political class (dancing the night away at a State Dinner on the South Lawn beneath baubles and butterflies and yukking it up at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner) and mainstream America (working hard to feed their families with 9.9 percent unemployment looming overhead and watching while the nation’s greatest environmental crisis unfolds), voters have lost patience.

Agree with them or not, it’s the women of the GOP—like Sarah Palin, Rep. Michele Bachmann (MN) and Gov. Jan Brewer (AZ)—who are tough enough to say exactly what they think. And their words are resonating with an increasingly vocal electoral bloc.

Lori Ziganto writes on NewsReal, the team blog of the David Horowitz Freedom Center:

“True feminists are women like Sarah Palin and Nikki Haley. They are the new faces of feminism...We’ve had it, you see. We are angry... We are tired of women being painted as perpetual victims by the left, in need of Big Daddy Government to save us. We are tired of working so hard to raise our families and having the government take more and more away...We are angry that our children’s futures are being squandered and we are fearful that they will never know the country we knew and love. We are angry that we are losing our freedom. That old phrase ‘hell hath no fury like a woman scorned?’ Say hello to the scorned (I’m waving at you right now).”

Women accounted for 54 percent of voters in the 2008 elections. Yet only six women currently serve as governors, with 17 in the U.S. Senate, and 76 in the House.

That underrepresentation may be about to change with a record number of women—and Republican women—running.

Eleven GOP Women to Watch

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Nikki Haley (Mary Ann Chastain / AP Photo)

State Rep. Nikki Haley (SC)—running for governor; primary Jun. 8. Haley has lifetime “A” ratings from the South Carolina Club for Growth and the National Rifle Association. Palin’s recent endorsement helped boost Haley from fourth to first among GOP primary contenders. And so it's no surprise she is suddenly facing charges of adultery. It’s a sure sign of respect when women in politics are finally being accused of philandering.

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Sandy Adams

State Rep. Sandy Adams (Oviedo, FL)—running for U.S. Congress, FL-24; primary Aug. 24. Adams is a strong conservative mom with law enforcement experience and military service to her credit. She believes new technologies and space exploration must remain a priority. Will introduce legislation requiring zero-based federal budgeting.

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Jan Brewer (Ross D. Franklin / AP Photo)

Gov. Jan Brewer (AZ)—succeeded Janet Napolitano, who left the statehouse to serve as Obama’s Homeland Security secretary; standing for election to a full term; primary Aug. 24. Brewer’s approval ratings have increased despite criticism from President Obama and others (including me) of the controversial new immigration measure she signed into law. She does not back down easily. Her latest video, replying to critics is going viral.

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Elizabeth Emken

Elizabeth Emken—running for U.S. Congress, CA-11; primary Jun. 8. On the radar for GOP Young Guns, Emken spent the last 13 years in the halls of Congress as a mom and a leader of nation's largest science and advocacy organization devoted to the public health emergency of autism.

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Mary Fallin (AP Photo)

Rep. Mary Fallin (OK)—running for governor; primary Jul. 27. Fallin was the first woman and the first Republican lieutenant governor in Oklahoma, a position she held for 12 years. The House Armed Services Committee recently accepted her amendment to enforce post-combat testing for traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder.

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Carly Fiorina (Paul Sakuma / AP Photo)

Carly Fiorina—seeking to oust Sen. Barbara Boxer of CA; primary Jun. 8. A self-made woman, one of the most powerful in the business world as CEO of HP, Fiorina has conquered tough times and continuing tough criticisms. Fiorina has inched ahead of GOP rival Rep. Tom Campbell in latest polling.

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Dr. Deborah Travis Honeycutt

Dr. Deborah Travis Honeycutt—running for U.S. Congress, GA-13; primary July 20. A physician, Honeycutt is an unabashed supporter of the Constitution, American values and Christian principles. She is a strong proponent of a Fair Tax, believes in creating jobs through tax breaks for small businesses, and opposes a nationwide government-sponsored health care plan.

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Susana Martinez

Susana Martinez—running for governor NM; primary June 1. District Attorney for the 3rd Judicial District in Doña Ana County, Martinez was first elected in 1996 with nearly 60 percent of the vote. Re-elected three times, she ran unopposed in 2008. She has tried some of the toughest cases, including child abuse and child homicide. Battling public corruption is another passion.

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Angela McGlowan (Newscom)

Angela McGlowan—running for U.S. Congress, MS-1; primary Jun. 1. Small businesswoman, motivational speaker and best-selling author of BAMBOOZLED: How Americans Are Being Exploited by the Lies of the Liberal Agenda. McGlowan has appeared as a political analyst on Fox and will surely drive liberals crazy with her vocal stands.

 

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Jane Norton (Ed Andrieski / AP Photo)

Lt. Gov. Jane Norton (CO, 2003-2007)—running for U.S. Senate; primary Aug. 10. Norton is the former executive director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and first executive director for the Denver Police Foundation, supporting officers and their families in times of crisis. She believes in giving individuals and families more power over their health care decisions.

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Meg Whitman (Paul Sancya / AP Photo)

Meg Whitman—running for governor CA; primary Jun. 8. The former CEO of eBay, Whitman vows to veto all bills that do not create jobs, slash government spending or reform public schools. Though her support has plunged in the last few months as her GOP opponent attacked her for trying to straddle the fence in the immigration debate, she still commands a double-digit lead.

The mama grizzlies of the GOP are just starting to roar. And voters are taking notice.

As vice chairman of Public Strategies and president of Maverick Media, Mark McKinnon has helped meet strategic challenges for candidates, corporations and causes, including George W. Bush, John McCain, Governor Ann Richards, Charlie Wilson, Lance Armstrong, and Bono.