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West Virginia women's group works for Democratic agenda

September 23, 2002|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

When it comes to politics, the 100 or so women who gathered at the Holiday Inn on Friday know what they want: Democrats in office.

Every office.

The women are members of the West Virginia Federation of Democratic Women, here for their 38th annual meeting.

"We must hold onto the Senate. We must pick up the House, or at least make it tougher for them (Republicans)," said guest speaker Alice Germond, who lives in Jefferson County and is secretary of the Democratic National Committee. "There is just so much at stake."

Germond was one of several people who spoke at the conference, which is to continue today and Sunday.

"The Republican party is not good for women," Germond said.

President Bush closed the White House Office on Women's Issues and has appointed 20 percent fewer women than former president Bill Clinton, Germond said.

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Fifty-two percent of the nation's voters are women, she said.

In West Virginia, 36 of the state's 55 counties have a Federation of Democratic Women chapter. Clubs raise funds for Democratic candidates and help raise awareness of issues they deem important, among other tasks.

Women stood and applauded when a speaker announced West Virginia first lady Sandy Wise, whose husband, Gov. Bob Wise, is not up for re-election this fall. Sandy Wise spoke briefly.

Wise, who previously worked in the U.S. House of Representatives on Social Security issues, said she disagrees with Republicans' plans to privatize Social Security.

"Social Security is what sustains women as they grow older," she said.

After her remarks, a line of people gathered to shake hands or hug her.

"This is my favorite group to visit," Wise said. "They're very nice women who work very hard."

She declined to discuss politics further.

This is the first time in "a long time" the conference has been held in the Panhandle, said Fay Falcone, president of the Berkeley County chapter. Berkeley's group, formed in 1932, has about 75 members, she said.

One of the state's most anticipated races involves incumbent Shelley Moore Capito, who faces Charleston lawyer and Democrat Jim Humphreys for the 2nd Congressional District seat.

Although Germond made a point to mention by name numerous women who are running for office, gender alone is not a reason to support a candidate, Falcone said.

"I don't think that gender has a role now," she said. "The issues are too serious themselves."

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