Ann Becker is a Ohio Republican Party Central Committeewoman for Butler County. When she decided to run for a seat in the Ohio Statehouse to succeed outgoing Ohio Rep. Margy Conditt (R-Liberty Twp.) and sought an endorsement from the board, the reaction wasn’t what she expected.
According to the Dayton Daily News, Central Committee Chairman Chris Wunnenberg asked, “How would you handle the workload and time commitment of a state (representative) while your children are still in school and require a lot of your time?”
Becker responded, “I do have three kids, my husband is a very helpful husband, I’ve got a daughter who drives and I think I’ll be able to manage. I’m very hands-on with my kids, but I can do this, too.”
Wunnenberg moderated the discussion and had prior knowledge of the questions put forward to the candidates. He claims he “didn’t do a lot of censoring of the questions” and didn’t know if it originated with one of Becker’s supporters throwing her a “softball” question” or from the opposition tossing a “gotcha” question.
Yeah, because a softball and a gotcha are the same. Oh please!
“I thought she answered it very well, “ Wunnenberg commented.
The only woman in a field of five seeking the seat, Becker, a resident of Liberty Township told the Journal that she was “extremely disappointed” in the question.
“As a mother, I’m perfectly suited for politics — tough, organized and able to watch what’s happening,” she said. “I was extremely disappointed in (Central Committee) Chairman (Chris) Wunnenberg singling me out as the only woman and mother asking for the recommendation and disappointed in my fellow candidates for not standing up for me.”
Professor Mark C. Smith, who teaches political science at Cedarville University, said it was “unfortunate” that Becker was the only candidate to whom the question was posed.
“It is built on two questionable assumptions,” he said. “One, that male candidates share no obligations toward their families, and, two, that particular characteristics — sex, race, ethnicity — somehow limit a candidate’s ability to represent an entire constituency.”
Political Science Chair Mack Mariani of Xavier University agreed. “We don’t live in the age of ‘Mad Men’ anymore. Women balance family and work responsibilities all the time in the modern world. A question like this also disrespects the male candidates by ignoring the commitment they have to their own children and households.”
The question infuriated Ohio Rep. Candice Keller, (R-Middletown). “(The question) gives the impression that the Butler County Republican Party is led by a person who has an outdated, sexist attitude,” Keller said. “To indicate that a woman is unable to juggle multiple responsibilities is something straight out of the 1950’s. No man would ever be asked this same question, as was proven at the meeting.”
Jocyelyn Bucaro, Chair of the Butler County Democratic Party was also incensed at the inappropriate question. “This is clearly an example of the attitudes that plague the Grand Old Party. Shame on the person who asked the question and shame on the GOP leaders who did not shut that line of questioning down.”
I may not agree with Becker’s politics, but it goes without saying that she is as capable as any man to serve the people of her community and her state. The knuckle draggers still don’t get it.
Of the 99 Ohio Statehouse members, 24 (including Conditt whose resignation is effective today) are women. Six of the 33 Ohio senators are women.
Ann Werner is the author of thrillers and other things. Show her some love and check out her books!
Visit her at Ann Werner on the Web