Senator Tom Patton thinks his opponent shouldn’t be running for an Ohio House seat because she has kids.
Jennifer Herold is a 30-year-old mom of two who’s running for a seat in the Ohio State House Of Representatives, but according to one of her opponents, her campaign is a bad idea because she should be at home with her babies.
Oh, yes. He really said that.
Herold’s opponent, Senator Tom Patton, is a term-limited Republican who’s now running for a House seat in Ohio, and in a recent interview with the America’s Work Force radio show, he questioned whether or not Herold should even be running for office because she’s got two small kids. According to The Columbus Dispatch, Patton referred to his opponent as “sweetie” on the show, and then said:
“The gal that’s running against me is a 30-year-old, you know, mom, mother of two infants. I don’t know if anybody explained to her you have to spend three nights a week in Columbus. So, how does that work out for you? I waited until I was 48, until my kids were raised, and at least adults, before we took the opportunity to try.”
Herold, whose kids are one and three, responded in a lengthy Facebook post on her official page, saying that she and her family take her decision to run very seriously. She said that Patton’s comments questioned her intelligence, implied she doesn’t understand the requirements of the office for which she’s running, and seemed to suggest that women should be precluded from holding office until their children are adults. She continued:
“We [my family and I] realize the sacrifice that is involved in holding such a position. However, Tom Patton has crossed a line by trying to turn the fact that I am a mother of two children into a negative campaign issue. It’s insulting for my opponent to suggest that motherhood is a liability. In fact, my experience as a mom is perhaps my greatest strength.”
Herold also pointed out that a number of politicians have served while raising young kids, including Sarah Palin, Cathy McMorris, and Paul Ryan, whose three kids were all born while he was in office. Further, she added, she’d like to know whether or not Senator Patton draws a distinction between moms and dads in the state legislature, or if believes both male and female politicians currently serving while raising young kids are unfit to hold a public office.
Patton hasn’t responded, except to release a statement saying his comments “appear to have been misunderstood,” and that he “used a poor choice of words to express what I know first-hand — raising young children and working is tough.” While that may be true, it doesn’t change the fact that what he said played directly into the same sexist arguments people use to keep women out of the workforce every single day.
Women are constantly scrutinized for the way we balance motherhood with the rest of our responsibilities, whereas men are seldom questioned in the same way. Herold was absolutely right to call Patton out on his bullshit comments and to point out the many, many people who currently hold office and parent at the same time. If Patton knows “first hand” how tough it is to work and raise kids, he should also know first hand that any working parent takes their kids into consideration before they make any decisions regarding their employment.
Furthermore, he should respect that his opponent is well aware of the requirements of her position, rather than suggesting someone hasn’t properly “explained” it to her. What, because she’s a mom she suddenly needs people to break everything down for her and spell the big words out slowly? I’m pretty sure she knows what she’s running for. As much as Patton may try to backpedal, his comments were not at all misunderstood. They were sexist and demeaning, and it’s disturbing to think that anyone who holds a public office would hold such a low opinion of working moms.