Former GOP candidate Hilda Legg says women still face prejudice from some voters

06/14/2011 08:52 PM

While she said she doesn’t make excuses for her narrow loss in last month’s Republican primary for secretary of state, Hilda Legg said women candidates still face tough headwinds when running for statewide office in Kentucky.

“I never look for excuses, but I must tell you I was surprised,” Legg said. “I think there does still exist individuals who do not believe that women should be in elective office. And it was a reminder that in sometimes in some ways we still have a way to go.” (see the 4:15 mark of the clip)

But Legg said today on Pure Politics that her campaign was a wonderful experience, and she hopes it opens the door for more women to get involved in Kentucky’s political scene.

Legg said any voter prejudice that she encountered probably wouldn’t have amounted to enough to change the outcome of the race. But she said she’s hopeful that more women get into the political arena and run for public office.

“It’s going to take more women just simply getting out there, whether it’s in the business corporate world, whether it’s in the government,” Legg said. “As a party we should be recruiting I think women in those local offices, whether it’s county judge executive, members of the General Assembly.” (see the 4:30 mark of the clip)

Of Kentucky’s 138 legislators, 25 are women — 19 in the House and six in the Senate. That amounts to 18.1% of state lawmakers even though women make up slightly more than half of the commonwealth’s citizens. Across the nation, women make up 23.6% of state legislators, and only nine states have a lower percentage than Kentucky, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Only one of Kentucky’s female legislators, Republican State Senator Katie Stine, is in a leadership role.

And only one woman currently in office was elected statewide: state Auditor Crit Luallen, a Democrat. Current Secretary of State Elaine Walker was appointed by Gov. Steve Beshear in January.

Walker lost in the Democratic primary for secretary of state to another woman, Alison Lundergan Grimes. But Legg says she is supporting her opponent in the May primary, Bill Johnson over Grimes.

“I’m a Republican and a life-long Republican, and so I will be supporting our Republican slate of candidates,” Legg said. “I think it’s always good when women are involved and engaged in it, and I also think it’s really good when we have young aspiring women involved in it. But I think at the end of the day, my conservative values will trump.” (see the 8:15 mark of the clip)

- Lanny Brannock and Ryan Alessi


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