Running in Heels
Attention, political junkies: 2012 is a record year for female candidates. Meet the women to watch (and vote for) this campaign season.
By Roberta Bernstein, Ashley Ross, and Lauren N. Williams
SHOCKING BUT TRUE: Women make up 16.8 percent of U.S. Congress. Even Sudan and Afghanistan have more female representation. But this year, a historic number of women want to change that. A record 298 filed to run for the House and 36 for the Senate. MC has the scoop on 11 lady pols to watch this falla double-amputee war hero, a Rhodes scholar, a gun-toting former police chief, and more. Raging liberal? Devout Tea Partyer? There's a new political hero here for everyone.
ELIZABETH WARREN, 63 (Pictured)
PERSONAL STORY: After her dad's heart attack when she was 12, Warren's parents struggled to pay their bills, inspiring her professional focus on the trials of working-class families. Married, two adult kids.
RÉSUMÉ HIGHLIGHTS: Harvard law prof for 20 years; chair of congressional committee investigating bank bailout; led creation of Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Dubbed "Sheriff of Wall Street."
TOP ISSUES: Jobs, the economy, nixing subsidies for big oil and tax breaks for the superrich. "The game is rigged ... for billionaires, who pay lower tax rates than their secretaries."
IN HER BAG: "I carry a backpack. It has my toothbrush, Chapstick, BlackBerry, and iPod."
HEATHER WILSON, 51
PERSONAL STORY: Her alcoholic stepfather was frightening to live with, so early on she decided to be a problem solver who bettered people's lives. Married, two teen children, one adult son.
RÉSUMÉ HIGHLIGHTS: Air Force officer; Rhodes scholar; author; first female military vet in Congress; member of former President George H.W. Bush's National Security Council.
TOP ISSUE: Jobs. Says biggest problem facing women is the need for "satisfying full-time work that pays well."
IN HER BAG: Carries a small Coach briefcase stuffed with her iPad, iPhone, credit card, PowerBars, and Rockstar Lemonade.
GABRIELA SAUCEDO MERCER, 48
U.S. CONGRESS, 3RD DISTRICT*
PERSONAL STORY: Born in Mexico, one of six kids, first visited America on a school trip to Disneyland. At 22, immigrated to the U.S., became a citizen five years later. Has worked in defense electronics and as a consultant selling weight-loss products. Married, three adult children.
TOP ISSUES: A Tea Partyer who wants to return the country to its conservative roots and get people "off unemployment rolls."
CAMPAIGN FLAP: Got flak for a Facebook clip comparing food stamp recipients with animals fed in the wild. Promptly deleted it.
SOUND BITE: About her opponent, fellow Mexican-American incumbent Representative Raúl Grijalva: "[He] was born here, but he hates the American way."
TULSI GABBARD, 31
U.S. CONGRESS, 2ND DISTRICT
PERSONAL STORY: At 21, youngest person ever to win a seat in the Hawaii legislature. Served two tours in the Middle East with Hawaii National Guard. Elected to Honolulu City Council. Single, no kids.
HISTORY WATCH: If she wins, would be first Hindu member of Congress.
TOP ISSUES: Wall Street reform, reducing the tax burden on small businesses, ending war in Afghanistan, equal pay for women.
IN HER BAG: IPad, meditation beads, hair brush, campaign brochures.