Monday, March 10, 2008

Boyda celebrates women leaders who came before her

March is Women's History Month, so it's fitting Congresswoman Nancy Boyda opened the month by delivering the keynote at an event held to recognize the contribution women have made to Kansas history.

According to the article, Boyda talked at some length about her childhood, saying that she was raised with some mixed signals about the role of women in society.

Boyda said she grew up in a household with conflicting messages about women: that women could do whatever the chose, but also that women should be seen and not heard. Although she was encouraged to pursue an education and career, Boyda said her mother at first didn't understand her interest in campaigning.

Her mother asked her, "Why can't you just trust your government, sweetheart?"
Boyda's mom didn't live to see her sworn into office.

It's particularly fitting Boyda should be asked to speak at an event honoring women leaders, because she has now joined an elite club of elected officials- women elected to the United States Congress- and it's a club Kansans have played a significant role in.

Kansans have elected, including Nancy Boyda, five women to represent us Congress, including two Democrats and two Republicans- four members of the House and one United States Senator, and we think it's fitting to honor all of them today:
  • Sen. Nancy Landon Kassebaum-Baker: One of the first women ever elected to the United States Senate, Sen. Kassebaum was a leaders of the "moderate" wing of the Republican Party- a fiscal conservative who was also pro-choice. Elected as a political novice in 1978, she established herself quickly as a leader for Kansas, becoming the first woman in history to chair a committee in the United States Senate. Kassebaum ended her career, after nearly 20 years, in 1997.
  • Rep. Martha Keys: The first woman to hold the seat Congresswoman Boyda currently occupies, serving two terms (1975-1979), Rep. Keys was thrust into office with significant power- she was named as a freshmen to the powerful House Ways and Means Committee. A leader of the women's equality movement, she ensured Title IX had the teeth it needed to make real changes to the way America's sporting programs received money. Incidentally, she was only the second Democrat to be elected to the seat since the Civil War- but, in the last 40 years, the Democrats have held the seat 21 years, compared to the 19 years for the Republicans.
  • Rep. Jan Meyers: The only woman ever to hold the seat currently held by Congressman Dennis Moore, Meyers was another Kansas Republican woman in the vein of Sen. Kassebaum: a fiscal conservative and a social moderate. She was the first woman in more than 40 years to chair a House standing committee and a staunch defender of a woman's right to choose. She served from 1985-1997.
  • Rep. Kathryn O'Loughlin McCarthy: We have to apologize- we left Rep. McCarthy out when we originally wrote this piece. It's sad, because she was the first woman ever elected to the United States Congress (elected in 1932), and one of the only single women ever elected to the body at all (she married during her term). MCarthy's district was the 26 counties in the northwest corner of Kansas along the Nebraska and Colorado border.
Serving only one term, she was swept into office in the Roosevelt wave, beating a 2- term Republican in the process. She wanted a seat on the Agriculture Committee, but leadership refused, instead putting her on the Insular Affairs Committee, which is still in charge of issues relating to our federal territories. She was furious, and and in protest she said, “Where, pray tell, are the islands of Kansas?” Leadership relented, removing her from the Insular Affairs Committee, but still denied her a seat on the Agriculture Committee, instead putting her on the Education Committee. She was targeted for defeat by powerful Republican Governor Alf Landon and his handpicked replacement, Frank Carlson did just that- but only by 2,800 votes of more than 120,000 cast. She passed away in 1952, the same year the man who defeated her became Majority Leader of the United States Senate.
  • Also, and we think often forgotten, Governor Bill Graves appointed Sheila Frahm to serve the remainder of former Senator Bob Dole's term after he resigned to run for President in 1996. She served only 5 months before being denied renomination, and a full term of her own, in a special election primary fight with now-Sen. Sam Brownback. She left her seat only days after Sen. Brownback defeated Jill Docking in the 1996 general election.
Nancy Boyda is currently one of just 89 women in Congress, and she joins a list of extraordinary Kansas woman who have served before her. She fits in well, too- a centrist, with the best for Kansas in her heart, and a woman willing to do what is right even if it isn't what everyone in her party wants her to do.


Anonymous said...

Really interesting post...and it was really cool that you included the Republican women, too. Something you'd never see on one of the conservative blogs.

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

You seem to have forgotten Lynn Jenkins. She also came before Nancy Boyda. I'll wait for you to correct your oversight ...

Boyda Bloc said...

Notice the blog only mentioned federal elected officials.

We also left out Sandy Praeger, Sally Thompson, Joan Finney, and Kathleen Sebelius.

It certainly wasn't an oversight.

This blog is not affiliated in any way with the Kansas Democratic Party, the Democratic National Committee, Congresswoman Nancy Boyda, the Office of Congresswoman Nancy Boyda, or the campaign to re-elected Congresswoman Nancy Boyda. All commentary herein not directly attributed must be considered the opinion of the authors of this blog and not of any other individual, including Congresswoman Nancy Boyda.