Illustrated by Naomi Abel.
At first glance, this may not seem like the most exciting of election days, especially compared to the action of last year's Obama versus Romney showdown. It's an off-year election, meaning very few states have seats in contest. Sure, the New York Mayorship is up for grabs, but it's not exactly a nail-biter. But, when you look deeper, there are two major state-level elections that are going to have a big impact on all of us across the country.
We may not be able to vote in these contests, but the results will set the stage for women's issues everywhere. Whether it's abortion rights or equal pay, it's our civic duty to keep a watchful eye on the political landscape; so, we've broken down the two races today that we all need to be following. Even if you're not in one of these districts, these are the contests that matter most for women.
The Virginia Gubernatorial Race
Things have been getting quite heated in the Eastern state. The contest, which pits Republican Ken Cuccinelli against Democrat Terry McAuliffe, hinges mainly on women's rights. Cuccinelli, who is currently Attorney General of Virginia, was one of only three A.G.s who didn't back the renewal of the Violence Against Women Act. He's received criticism from his opponents as well as former President Bill Clinton for resisting support of women. Cuccinelli has also been accused of opposing abortion in almost all circumstances — including rape and incest — except for those when the mother's life is in danger.
Virginia is currently considered one of the most anti-abortion states in the country, so national pro-life groups have been pushing advertisements in a big way. For his part, Cuccinelli has recently made claims that his views on abortion rights and women's rights in general have been exaggerated, but there's no doubt that this election will have a huge impact on a Virginia woman's right to choose.
The New Jersey Gubernatorial Race
Much of the coverage of politics in New Jersey recently has centered around marriage equality and Hurricane Sandy recovery, but those aren't the only issues that have longterm effects. Senator Barbara Buono is running against the incumbent Chris Christie, and has based much of her campaign on her work for women's rights in the state. Currently, New Jersey women make only 78 cents to every dollar a man earns; the disparity is even worse for minority women. Christie has also been accused of threatening women's access to preventative care by closing down clinics across the state.
According to The New York Times, democrats have flowed millions of dollars into the campaign in hopes of reshaping the state's political landscape. Christie holds a considerable lead in the polls, and a landslide would most likely strengthen his influence in the legislature as well.