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Harriett Woods often used the phrase “not acceptable”, as in, it is “not acceptable” that there are only 21 progressive women filling the 197 seats in the state House and Senate. Raising those stats in Missouri is the goal of Harriett’s List, a newly minted organization modeled after Emily’s List and named in honor of Woods.

The group held a press conference Tuesday at the City Hall in University City where, 42 years ago, Harriett Woods began her political career–because of a loose manhole cover. Traffic would bang on that cover and wake her son from his afternoon nap. After getting no help from the City Council about the issue, Woods ran for councilwoman, won, and eventually ended up as the state’s first and only woman Lt. Governor and as its first woman candidate for the U.S. Senate.

In 1982, she lost that race–barely–because she ran out of funds against a well funded male, John Danforth. As a result of that loss, Emily’s List was founded, so it is fitting that on what would have been Harriett’s 82nd birthday, the woman whose race inspired that PAC has now inspired a similar group in our state. Harriett’s List joins ten other “LIST” organizations, including Annie’s List in Texas and Lillian’s List in North Carolina.

Harriett’s son, Andy, and her granddaughter, Reina, were among the speakers at the press conference on Tuesday.  

The executive director of Harriett’s List is Stacey Newman, who lost last year’s primary in heavily Democratic District 73, St. Louis, to Steve Brown. Her opponent was a progressive, but considering that the district had been served by progressive women like Margaret Donnelly and Joan Bray, Newman wanted to keep the seat in a woman’s hands. She lost, though, to a better funded candidate and will now be working to see other women adequately funded. And most of them will be running, not against a progressive man, but against a Republican.

Also speaking at the press conference were state senators Joan Bray and Rita Days. They were standing in for all the members of the Advisory Board, which reads like a Who’s Who of progressive women in elective office in this state. Afterwards, Bray mentioned that Harriett’s List will be a full service organization. It is more than just a PAC. It will recruit candidates and help them find effective campaign managers.

But you can’t pay campaign managers with hopes and high ideals. They require a salary. So Andy Woods kicked off the fundraising effort by writing a check for $5,000, and Stacey Newman urged the audience not to let that check feel lonesome. Feel free to give his check some company.

photo courtesy of the Kansas City Star