In the House, Democratic Principles Matter Less than Democratic Incumbents

One might have thought, in this blue state and in this year of the woman, that the activities of the Massachusetts Women’s Political Caucus would not come under criticism from the highest-ranking female leader in the House of Representatives.

One would be wrong. Here’s the story.

The Massachusetts Women’s Political Caucus, founded in 1971, is a non-partisan organization committed to increasing the number of women elected to public office who support a woman’s right to choose.

The Caucus recently announced a number of candidate endorsements — female members of both the Democratic and Republican parties.  Six of the endorsed candidates are challenging incumbent Democratic members of the House.

The Speaker pro Tempore of the House, Representative Patricia Haddad, apparently regarded these challenges to incumbent Democrats as an affront. She sent a private email to her fellow House Democrats on behalf of her colleagues in the Caucus of Women Legislators (a similarly-named group consisting of female members of both parties in the House and Senate) to clear up any confusion between the two Caucuses. And not stopping there, she went on to speak for her fellow female legislators, telling the six challenged Democratic incumbents that “the women of the House would never work against a colleague,” and to announce that, because of its endorsements, she would not be accepting the backing of the Massachusetts Women’s Political Caucus.

Five of the six challenged House incumbents are male. The one female incumbent is Colleen Garry, who has been a steadfast opponent of abortion during her 24-year tenure in the House. This position, presumably, was the basis for the endorsement of her pro-choice challenger, Sabrina Heisey.

The day after Representative Haddad’s rather peevish email, the House passed a bill repealing a number of archaic statutes that might be used (perhaps by an unfriendly federal government) to call into question a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion.  Representative Haddad’s leadership on the issue was lauded on the House floor, and the bill passed easily, 138 to 9. Two Democrats voted no – one of them was Colleen Garry.

(The text of Representative Haddad’s email is on the next page.)  Continue reading