Upstart PAC takes off by backing conservative women

Jennifer DeJournett
Courtesy of Jennifer DeJournett
Jennifer DeJournett

Speaking to the woman of the house has put Minnesota women in the House (and the Senate, county and school boards).

In 2010, Voices of Conservative Women, a nonpartisan political action committee that endorses only women candidates, elected two-thirds of its endorsed state and local candidates and won 87 percent of its targeted races. Barely a year old, it was the first women’s political action committee in Minnesota to conduct an independent expenditure campaign.

Under the direction of Jennifer DeJournett, VoicesPAC has put women in the center of the political bulls-eye. Women out-vote men in this country by 5 percentage points, she says, so “we specifically message to women voters and that’s not usually what conservatives do.” On the more than 110,000 pieces of mail that VoicesPac sent out, the addressee was a woman.

“When we made phone calls, we asked for the women,” she said. “When we door-knocked, we asked for the woman of the house.” DeJournett maintains there was virtually no opposition from traditional conservative groups.  

With last year’s track record of legislative and local government victories, DeJournett should be thrilled but instead, “I was bummed. We should have gotten 100 percent with such smart candidates.”

DeJournett is a civil engineer and mother of four young children who, along with fellow VoicesPac board members, has little time for “coulda, woulda, shoulda.” This self-described baby PAC has just spun off a nonprofit think tank, is screening candidates for the 2011 local elections, sponsors candidate training sessions, and will be in Washington next month for the conservative mother lode, CPAC, the American Conservative Union’s annual conference.

As VoicesPac enters its second election cycle, the group remains firmly committed to its guiding principle: to endorse women candidates at the state and local level based on fiscal issues only. “We just insist on it. It’s the line in the sand,” says DeJournett. “When you talk about money I don’t think the walls go up. I think if you are talking about social policy everyone has different life experiences. I think our message is right.”

In reality, VoicesPac’s endorsed legislative candidates are Republican women who for the most part are strongly pro-life, like Gretchen Hoffman, first term state senator from the 10th district along the North Dakota border.

‘Economics, taxes, regulation and freedom’
“Voices saw my literature and they know who I am,” says Hoffman who didn’t run as the “woman candidate” and who touts her fiscal conservatism. “Voices really helped shine a light that men’s issues and women’s issues are the same. Women are equally concerned about economics, taxes, regulation and freedom.”

There is no gender gap in the donor list. The PAC raised more than $87,000 dollars last year with donations from women and men, including Stanley Hubbard, chair of Hubbard Broadcasting, and Robert Ulrich, former CEO of Target Corporation.

Will VoicesPac move on to endorse both men and women? “It was one of our biggest discussions,” DeJournett says. But the board decided “to do one thing really, really well.”

By all evidence, it has and VoicesPac has become a role model. DeJournett says that at the state level, PACs that support conservative women are non-existent. “We have been contacted now by other groups that are interested in how did we do it and how can we replicate,” she said. “The truth is we are just really good mimics of the liberal ladies groups.”

Another sign of VoicesPAC’s success is the 501C4 nonprofit which will focus on advocacy, outreach and education. “The education component is huge,” according to Hoffman. “They’re not just coming at from a political standpoint. Why do we need independent, conservative voices? At the end of the day you need to educate people.”

VoicesPac is looking for strength in numbers, not just to enlarge the ranks of conservative women lawmakers but to give perspective to conservative politicians like Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin who polarize even some of their supports. “They’re not polarizing,” DeJournett insists. “They’re just so few of us. They just stand out because they are alone.”

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Comments (5)

  1. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 01/27/2011 - 10:06 am.

    Typically, conservatives don’t get into identity politics. It’s been the democrats who have built their party as a coalition of groups of people who share the same skin color, gender or sexual orientation (the Log Cabin Republicans notwithstanding). I mean, what are the chances that 97% of voters from the same race would all share the same governing philosophy?

    Republicans built their party as a collection of people who believe in the same things and share some common political principles. You either believe in freedom or you don’t and contrary to common democrat belief, believing in a free society isn’t limited to straight white men.

    We conservatives always used to say that the first black president would be a republican because the republicans would vote for him because of what he believed in and democrats and others would vote for him because he was black.

    We used to say the same thing about the first woman president for the same reasons. But after witnessing the most unbelievably mean, vile, personal, hateful attacks on conservative women candidates from the far left, it’s obvious that all conservative women need to step up and support their sisters and not let them have to face the haters alone.

  2. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 01/27/2011 - 10:45 am.

    …Voices of Conservative Women, a nonpartisan political action committee…



    And as for “unbelievably mean, vile, personal, hateful attacks on conservative women candidates from the far left”, I believe you are referring to Palin and Bachmann.

    There is a qualitative way in which they speak and point fingers that is in strong contrast to many other politicians, which invites vitriol in response to vitriol.

    Contrast their remarks to those of Lisa Murkowski, Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins, Elizabeth Dole, Kay Bailey Hutchison, Oline Walker, Linda Lingle, M. Jodi Rell, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Deborah Pryce, Barbara Cubin, Sue Myrick, Jo Ann Emerson, Kay Granger, Mary Bono, Heather Wilson, Judith Borg Biggert, Shelley Moore Capito, Marsha Blackburn, Ginny Brown-Waite, Candice Miller, Marilyn Musgrave, Thelma Drake, Virginia Foxx, Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Jean Schmidt, Condoleezza Rice, Elaine Chao, Margaret Spellings, Mary Peters, Susan Schwab, all more qualified to run for President because of temperament and wisdom than Bachmann or Palin.

    Bomb-throwers invite bombs. They do not reflect a viable way to work in this modern world.

  3. Submitted by Robin Marty on 01/27/2011 - 11:32 am.

    “In 2010, Voices of Conservative Women, a nonpartisan political action committee that endorses only women candidates, elected two-thirds of its endorsed state and local candidates and won 87 percent of its targeted races.”

    translated — 12 candidates won. During an alleged “Republican sweep”. I can’t tell specifics on their “targeted campaigns” since those are not listed.

  4. Submitted by Beryl John-Knudson on 01/27/2011 - 11:35 am.

    I’m trying to pack my personal politics in my rucksack and practice a little bi-partisanship here,but…

    “The truth is we are good mimics here of the liberal ladies groups”

    I ‘heard’ that. Creates an image of sorts, but otherwise “mimics the liberal ladies…”?

    Should I laugh, sigh or smirk cynically here? (Be nice; civil now,okay?)…okay, okay, but the only image is that conservative little woman is determined to remove her white gloves this time around. Biting,fighting whatever…wow.

    What was the other one that moved me…oh.yes,”At the end of the day you need to educate people….”

    All I can say on that one…go for it! At the end-of-the-day everybody’s snoring.

    Picture it:
    So much for bi-partisanship, but one thing, you will not catch me endorsing; like polishing up my grandmother’s pearls or her old breast brooch, ornament, whatever;no way…

  5. Submitted by Sheila Ehrich on 01/28/2011 - 11:33 am.

    And what does Phyllis Schlafly have to say about all these conservative women who aren’t staying home with the kids and taking care of the little hubby? I thought keeping the home fires burning and abortion were the only thing these ladies were supposed to be worrying about.

    I am aghast!

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