December 21, 2017
By Will Bunch
“You think you’ve had a busy holiday season? Try being Delaware County Democratic State Rep. Leanne Krueger-Braneky, who — in the spirit of Santa Claus, perhaps — has been flying all over the political map in recent days, speaking up and taking a stand for a fast-spreading revolution in female empowerment that must be gaining some traction if it’s actually reached Pennsylvania, the state where women’s movements historically go to die.
While you were out hunting down Christmas bargains, Krueger-Braneky has sponsored legislation in Harrisburg that would end the boys-club rules that for decades have helped cover up sexual misconduct by male legislators, stood with Gov. Wolf as he vetoed GOP-passed legislation that would have imposed one of the nation’s strictest antiabortion laws on Pennsylvania women, and this week called for the resignation of two fellow Democratic lawmakers whose bad conduct has been exposed in the growing tidal wave of #MeToo.
‘I think the #MeToo movement has opened up a broader conversation on the problems that have always been here,’ Krueger-Braneky told me this week. And No. 1 on that list in Pennsylvania is the stunning lack of female elected officials. We are currently 49th of the 50 states in women holding political office, ahead of only Mississippi. Globally, women get elected at a higher rate in Afghanistan than they do here.
Pennsylvania has never, in its more than two centuries, had a female governor, U.S. senator, or mayor of its largest city, Philadelphia. In the current 18-person delegation in the U.S. House, the rate of women is — hold on, let me take out my calculator … zero percent.
It’s a bad look, but the bigger problem is how the lack of diversity — gender and otherwise — makes for bad public policy. ‘I think we see the impact of the lack of women,’ said Krueger-Braneky, ‘on everything from how poorly budget negotiations have gone, with no women at the table, to the ultra-right-wing agenda of the House speaker’ — Republican Mike Turzai — ‘and his colleagues.’
Krueger-Braneky noted that while GOP lawmakers in Harrisburg were passing that extremist antiabortion bill despite the certainty of a veto by Democrat Wolf, legislation she’s cosponsored to increase access to birth control — the best evidence-based way to actually curb the number of unwanted pregnancies and abortions — remains hopelessly bottled up in committee. She said she went to Harrisburg after her surprise win in a 2015 special election hoping to work on economic development, her specialty, but instead has been forced to focus her time fighting what she calls ‘a constant attack on basic human rights.'”