Voices event seeks to mobilize conservative women to run for office

Assistant House Majority Leader Jennifer Loon
Assistant House Majority Leader
Jennifer Loon

The setting said it all.  At The Woman’s Club of Minneapolis, a hub for powerful women in the Twin Cities since 1928, Voices for Conservative Women hosted its first networking event.

The political action group that started literally at a kitchen table three years ago has set its sights on electing conservative women.

Sipping on wine and nibbling on cheese and chocolates, 75 women — mid-twenties to middle-aged — chatted and mingled Tuesday evening. On hand were former Minnesota Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch, Assistant House Majority Leader Jennifer Loon and radio magnate Ginny Hubbard Morris.

The atmosphere was cordial and warm, but the talk was serious – small business concerns, the economy, and the main topic of the evening: how to encourage conservative women to run for office.

“Just like liberal women, we are women who deal with issues like aging, education, business and finance,” Koch told the group.  “But we do it with a different, conservative perspective.”

Jennifer DeJournett, president and founder of Voices, believes that women, and especially conservative women, know better than anyone how to maintain fiscal order.  But until recently, there was no organization here to support them.

Former Minnesota Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch
Former Minnesota Senate Majority Leader
Amy Koch

“Does the common-sense, pocketbook woman have a place and home?” she asked as she explained to the group her drive to create Voices.  “As the women of the right, we could do better.”

Voices’ founding principle is to endorse women candidates based primarily on their views on fiscal issues.  Voices’ endorsees are all Republicans, but DeJournett insists that party affiliation is not a litmus test.

Neither are social issues, which are strictly not part of the agenda for VoicePAC or the group’s education and advocacy arm, which sponsored the networking event. 

Judging by the conversations at The Woman’s Club, Voices has correctly identified the concerns of many of today’s conservative women.

“Business is good,” Koch was saying to two women. Her utilities services business was busy, a sign that development is picking up, she said.

“But people are still unsure,” replied Laura Tomczik, who works for a small insurance company.  “The cost of health care is a major issue.”

Jennifer DeJournett
Courtesy of Jennifer DeJournett
Jennifer DeJournett

Comments like that reinforce DeJournett’s contention that women in office can better make the case for legislative change. Rep. Loon agreed: “Women, by far, can tell you when the rubber hits the road in public policy.”

Loon and others offered a hint that conservative women share some common ground with their liberal counterparts, mainly in their belief that women have the potential to be better leaders than men. “Women invented the word multitasking,” she said.

State Rep. Carol McFarlane, who is not running for re-election, is now helping other campaigns. She summed up why she supported women in office: “We don’t do it the same way as a man.  We don’t rant and rave and wave our fists, and we don’t always have to take credit.”

It was the line that drew the loudest applause and the most knowing smiles.

Comments (30)

  1. Submitted by James Hamilton on 07/26/2012 - 09:45 am.

    Not equal but better?

    “Loon and others offered a hint that conservative women share some common ground with their liberal counterparts, mainly in their belief that women have the potential to be better leaders than men.”

    This is an odd counterpoint to today’s piece on Allen Quist’s “genetic predisposition” comment. I suspect it will draw far less attention.

  2. Submitted by Nathaniel Finch on 07/26/2012 - 10:43 am.

    Yeah, let’s pit the women against the men…

    …we really need one more way to divide people.

    Judging by the performance to date of conservative women like Amy Koch, Mary Kiffmeyer, Mary Franson, et al., we don’t need more conservative women in office.

  3. Submitted by Rich Crose on 07/26/2012 - 11:02 am.

    They Like Me!

    Just anecdotal and probably a generalization but the women managers I’ve worked for seem to be more sensitive to how people perceive them than the men I’ve worked for. It presents itself in how they dress, how they present themselves, their grammar, their writing. Men are terse and abrupt in giving orders, women approach with “what do you think of this?”

    Good leaders gather enough information to make an informed decision and stand up and fight for it. Men tend to ignore the emotional side of an issue where a women will take other’s feelings into account.

    There is no Good or bad in this. Just my experience.

  4. Submitted by craig furguson on 07/26/2012 - 11:24 am.

    Kinda tough

    When your best choice to head a conservative event is Amy Koch. What’s the lawsuit cost for taxpayers to date, $85k?

  5. Submitted by Susan McNerney on 07/26/2012 - 01:07 pm.

    Sounds like the Log Cabin Republicans

    but based around women. And about as likely to be successful. Unless these women are willing to dedicate themselves to specifically restricting the basic rights of women and undermining services for women and children, they won’t have a place at the boys’ table of the GOP.

    Unfortunately, a lot of women just don’t believe this is happening. They’re in denial. Unless you’re a Michele Bachmann type who is willing to turn her own life into performance art for the benefit of powerful men, the modern conservative movement isn’t welcoming, and is in fact growing rapidly more hostile. These ladies will be expected to do as they are told.

  6. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 07/26/2012 - 01:17 pm.

    See, this is the problem

    These people don’t actually have any ideas or expertise, but they’re “conservative” and that’s all that matters.

    • Submitted by Neal Krasnoff on 07/26/2012 - 04:26 pm.

      See, this is the problem

      Hatred of anyone who doesn’t think like the left.

      • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 08/01/2012 - 10:08 am.

        Hatred?

        The problem with extremists is they always attribute extremes to everyone else. This is how they convert mundane observations into “hate” speech. Thus the common sense observation that conservatism alone cannot be the only qualification for public office becomes liberal “hate”. And so it goes.

  7. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 07/26/2012 - 01:29 pm.

    It’s a curious group

    When what’s being dealt with is strictly fiscal policy, there might be (rare) circumstances when I might even agree with “conservative” women. Not often, however, does the fiscal not at least touch upon social and educational issues, and the fact that VCW studiously avoided those kinds of issues at its gathering doesn’t make the organization immune from them.

    Once those issues surface, given the sustained and malevolent attacks on women that have come from “conservative” males in legislatures across the country, including Congress, over the past year or two, I’m a little mystified as to how those fiscally conservative women will be able to maintain their “conservative” stance. Possibly Allen Quist’s “genetic disposition” has somewhat moderated in the 18 years since he made that suggestion, but I have a hard time seeing any of the people pictured for the article meekly agreeing to be silent because the husband/boyfriend has basically said, “Shut up.”

    Once we get away from the strictly financial – and money seeps into every corner of the society, so it probably can’t be done entirely – the very notion of “conservative women,” especially given the past couple of years around the country, seems just a little oxymoronic to me.

  8. Submitted by Ann Baxter on 07/26/2012 - 10:49 pm.

    Maintain fiscal order? This from the party owing creditors millions, who can’t pay their rent, just got fit with huge fines, and worst of all… Is spending hundreds of thousands of taxpayer money on a lawsuit caused by Koch and her boyfriend? Thanks for the laugh!

    • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 07/28/2012 - 07:35 pm.

      It’s no surprise you’re not aware, Ann…

      you certainly won’t read about it on leftist media sites, but the DFL is in debt as well. And DFLers have paid plenty of fines.

  9. Submitted by jody rooney on 07/26/2012 - 11:07 pm.

    I beg to differ gentleman

    I don’t disagree with Ms. McNerney I think the old boys network is the heart blood of the the folks who call themselves conservative and women would have an up hill battle. However I think that an evidenced based look at the results of public policy which is basically a conservative view point is not a bad thing.

    We don’t ask the real questions any more:

    Is it the goal for every 7th grader to read proficiently and be able to do algebra?
    Should everyone be able to see a doctor when they need to?
    Should everyone be able to have access to medicine for diseases that are easily treatable with medication?
    Should everyone be vaccinated for diseases that pose a significant public health threat?
    Is there a role for the public sector in encourage business?

    These are social issues but how they are paid for is a fiscal issue.
    The extent to which there is a public and private benefit how should these be paid for.

    I am not fond of expanding anything where there is no need or contracting things when there is no real burden.

    So if I am female does that make me a liberal or a conservative?

    I think these folks are on to something.

    • Submitted by Dennis Tester on 07/27/2012 - 07:50 am.

      You’re a liberal

      A conservative wouldn’t ask those questions because they already know the answers, including who should pay for them.

      Forty percent of women vote republican. What differentiates them from liberal women are their life experiences. They’ve been married, they’ve had children, they’ve had to pay a mortgage, they’re in charge of the family finances, they’ve put kids through school, they own their own business, are co-owners in the family business, or at least work in the private sector where people are held accountable. They pay taxes.

      And that’s why they already know the answers to those questions.

      • Submitted by craig furguson on 07/27/2012 - 09:59 am.

        So liberal women aren’t married, have no children, are not paying a mortgage, not in charge of the family finances, have no kids to put through school, don’t own their own business, are not co-owners in the family business, or work in the private sector where people are held accountable? and liberal women don’t pay taxes.

        I think not.

      • Submitted by James Hamilton on 07/27/2012 - 10:43 am.

        Hmmmmm

        My liberal wife’s been married (still is), had a child (still does), paid off our mortgage early, handles her own finances, and pays substantial state and federal taxes each year (at a higher rate than Gov. Romney), but I guess since she hasn’t owned her own business (the law prohibited her from owning any interest in mine, despite her contribution to the education that made it possible), she wouldn’t know the answers to these questions.

        She is, however, capable of understanding the complexities of life in our society, including but not limited to the barriers faced by many less fortunate than we have been. She understands that it’s difficult to pull oneself up by one’s bootstraps when one doesn’t even have boots.

        • Submitted by Dennis Tester on 07/27/2012 - 03:58 pm.

          Caring about the poor makes her a liberal?

          I think if you did a little research you’d find that conservatives, men and women, give 30% more of their time and money to help the less fortunate than liberals do.

          (Ok, I did it for you)
          http://www.startribune.com/opinion/commentaries/150242335.html?refer=y
          (Google “conservatives give more to charity than liberals do”)

          One of the problems with people who advocate big government is that they then expect government to care for the poor and less fortunate so they don’t have to. Spend a day at Second Harvest sometime. Chances are you’ll meet a lot of conservatives.

  10. Submitted by James Murck on 07/27/2012 - 09:10 am.

    Binary Thinking is Really Myopic

    The problem I have with this whole concept of “Conservative Women” or the Conservative/Liberal dichotomy altogether is it only engenders and cultivates divisive political discourse. “Liberal” women do all the same things “Conservative” women do with the same level of quality – “They’ve been married, they’ve had children, they’ve had to pay a mortgage, they’re in charge of the family finances, they’ve put kids through school, they own their own business, are co-owners in the family business, or at least work in the private sector where people are held accountable. They pay taxes.” What would be a better model is to have an organization of “Women’s Voices” that explicitly mandates inclusion of ALL those voices – “Conservative” and “Liberal”.
    The fact is – conservatives and liberals need each other: conservative to advocate for the traditional tried and true principles of economic and social development and liberals to discourage complacency and urge us onto forward and expansive principles of economic development. What is needed is for organizations where people can come together from any and all political leanings and hash out a political consensus that honors the fact that we are All In This TOGETHER. This will require LISTENING to one another. I believe women are better at this than men and if women can do this and break the divisive impasse of our time, there will be no stopping them…

  11. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 07/27/2012 - 11:03 am.

    Questions?

    Jody,

    The reason we don’t ask those questions is because conservatives have been talking about “values” instead of public policy for 40 years. These women promise nothing but more of the same based on the theory their “conservatism” is the only requirement they need to meet for public office. Yeah, their onto something, it’s called ignorance. Not because they’re women mind you, but being women in and of itself doesn’t necessarily endow them with some great political insight. If Republicans have taught us anything in the last 40 years it’s that government budgets and household budgets are NOT the same thing. Just because someone knows how to pay for groceries doesn’t mean they know how to keep bridges from collapsing.

  12. Submitted by jody rooney on 07/27/2012 - 01:33 pm.

    Liberal and Conservative

    While I agree with you Mr. Murak and would like those to be the definitions of liberal and conservative I believe they no longer are, much to the countries detriment. Conservatives no longer use evidenced based economics and liberals no longer talk about goals but programs. But nostalgia doesn’t move anything forward. But it would be a better discourse if these views were true.

    Mr. Uderstrand I respectfully disagree with your position in the short term on your evaluation of these women in this group. It depends on which direction they go. I have not been impressed with Rep. Koch’s policies but I think the hypocrisy in outing her affair reflected more poorly on her male colleagues and the party and clearly showed their double standard. Do you really think she would have been outed if she were male?

    I can say I have known Carol McFarland since high school and I respect her tremendously. If you look at her record you will see both a diversity of issues and creative compassionate thinking on them. I was actually excited to be redrawn into her district and have an opportunity to vote for her than whoever was running against Matt Dean. Unfortunately the party demagogues won and didn’t endorse her and I won’t have that option.

    I agree that the discussion of values has been an effective deterrent to a meaningful public policy debate neither party (which is really what you are talking about not liberal or conservative) should have a clear conscious on allowing that to happen. As Oliver Wendell Holmes said “Controversy equalizes fools and wise men – and the fools know it.” Silence on the issue and hoping it will go away didn’t seem to work well.

    If this group is a path to changing the dialogue or reducing ego in politics then I am all for it.

    I think we can both agree that all style and no substance may win elections but it doesn’t govern well, regardless of party.

  13. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 07/27/2012 - 02:46 pm.

    Koch

    Jody,

    I respect and appreciate your comments, and I agree for the most part. However regarding Koch, I don’t care why she was “outed”, she’s a hypocrite that put a marriage amendment on the ballot while having an affair and declaring her Christian belief in the sanctity of marriage. I don’t think the fact that she’s a woman earns her a pass on that. And I don’t see how that kind of leadership is going to point us a new and constructive direction. If and when these people start presenting coherent policy ideas that actually solve problems, I’ll be there to listen. But so far they just seem to be declaring their ideological purity and claiming they’ll be better because they’re women. Bachmann’s a woman, I’m not impressed.

  14. Submitted by Bill Gleason on 07/27/2012 - 03:27 pm.

    Although I am rather far from Mrs. DeJournett politically,

    she is a smart and hardworking individual. She also is a structural engineer with an undergrad degree from Iowa State.

    Today on Twitter she questioned Mr. Quist on the subject of genetic profiles:

    @JenDeJournett

    @AllenQuist I am unclear if it is in my genetic profile to get to have a view point on the budget. Can you clarify for me? Thanks

    She’s running for Parks commissioner. If I lived in her district, I’d vote for her.

  15. Submitted by jody rooney on 07/27/2012 - 04:19 pm.

    Well Bachmann just proves

    Anyone can be an idiot regardless of gender.

    I don’t know that they claimed they were purer. I don’t think she deserves a pass but I think she deserves some privacy.

    And seriously we are all hypocrites on somethings. Some of us are just caught at it more easily than others. I don’t think leadership that puts a hypocrisy test on people can be very open minded either. You don’t have to admire it you just have to understand that it exists isn’t that the old biblical removing the spec from your neighbor’s eye before you remove the log from your own.

    Should you ask I think the amendment is crossing the line between church and state. Saying that only opposite sex couples can execute a contract is ridiculous.

  16. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 07/27/2012 - 10:24 pm.

    Oh please

    We’re all hypocrites? Koch is trying to build bigotry into our state constitution, that’s not your garden variety hypocrisy. She was in power, she cold have pursued any policy and this is what she made a priority out of. The English language doesn’t actually have word for this level of hypocrisy and duplicity. This is not our future, and there is no excuse. As far as privacy is concerned, Kock’s opposition to abortion is based on the theory that “privacy” is a legal fiction created by activists judges, and the opposition to gay marriage declares that what consenting adults do in the privacy of their own homes is the governments business. You know the game when you go into politics, she doesn’t have a lot of wiggle room on the privacy front. We’re not talking about photo’s of Amy in her back yard, this is behavior that has direct bearing her policy and stands to affect thousands of lives.

  17. Submitted by jody rooney on 07/28/2012 - 04:45 pm.

    Paul lots of people could have stopped the stupid amendment

    But they didn’t.

    If you can’t vote for her or her opponent you are wasting a lot of energy on someone you can’t do anything about. Fund her opponent work for the amendments defeat but vilifying an individual is about the most ineffective thing you can do. It is just a waste of time. Particularly for something that really does nothing new.

    Maybe the next legislature passes a constitutional amendment or statute that all people in a registered domestic partnership will have the same legal status as married couples for the purposes of benefits and property rights.

    The question comes down to whether you want the style or the substance.

  18. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 07/29/2012 - 09:48 am.

    Vilifying?

    Jody, we have every right and responsibility comment on and criticize our elected officials, it’s not vilifying, it’s a part of the democratic process, this is how we evaluate the quality and direction of our leadership. Koch is no less responsible for her decisions and behavior than anyone else. Nor does the fact that other people are involved mitigate any individual responsibility.

    You don’t run for office on the promise and strength of your integrity and personal qualities and then expect your integrity and personal qualities to out of bounds in the public arena. You can’t tell us that these women are entitled to run on the qualities of being moms and wives,household budget managers, and entrepreneurs, and then declare that their conduct as moms, wives, household budget managers, and entrepreneurs is beyond the realm of scrutiny due to privacy restrictions.

  19. Submitted by jody rooney on 07/29/2012 - 06:38 pm.

    Other than just complaining

    Paul I don’t see anything in what you have written that isn’t a truism. so what is your point other than just complaining. I never said they can’t be called anything I just said to continue to complain or hold a grudge is ineffective.

    I really don’t get your problem with they being mom’s, housewives, household budget managers and entrepreneurs means they are not qualified to run. Let us not hope you are implying that they are “just: mom’s, housewives, household budget managers and entrepreneurs” as in that totally disqualifies them from participating in the process and running for office.

    What did you have in mind for qualifications to run for office, polisci majors with law degrees?

    Or heaven forbid it is beginning to sound like you think they should all be men because the activities stated above mean they have no valid experience or education.

    • Submitted by Pat Berg on 07/30/2012 - 07:25 am.

      I didn’t interpret Paul’s comment that way at all

      What I understood him to be saying was that it is disingenuous to claim that some given characteristics make you uniquely qualified to present yourself as a candidate, and then during the campaign, declare that those exact same characteristics must be off-limits for scrutiny.

      Another example might be someone who says that having been a businessman makes him uniquely qualified to run for President, and then later declares that scrutiny and criticism of his behavior while acting as a businessman constitutes questionable behavior on the part of his opponent.

      Sort of like that, you see?

  20. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 07/30/2012 - 10:21 am.

    Nope

    ” Let us not hope you are implying that they are “just: mom’s, housewives, household budget managers and entrepreneurs” as in that totally disqualifies them from participating in the process and running for office. ”

    Nope, that’s not what I’m saying. Thank you Mr. Berg for clarifying.

  21. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 07/30/2012 - 10:30 am.

    Grudges

    Amnesia is even more ineffective than grudges. One thing it is to ask people to drop a grudge, another it is to ask them to pretend they have amnesia. In most circumstances it’s important to remember what politicians have done in the past, it’s a pretty good predictor of what they’ll do in the future.

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