Abstract

Democrat Helen Gahagan Douglas of California is widely remembered for her senatorial loss to Richard Nixon and his red-baiting tactics in 1950. She is also remembered for her extraordinary rise to Congress in 1944. While not disputing her talents, this article explores the gendered politics of accommodation that shaped her initial success. Douglas established political credibility by accommodating male partisans at some cost to local women leaders and she benefitted from an incumbent effect not unlike congressional widows. The Democratic Party, in turn, accommodated Douglas in a winnable district because of her symbolic value as a woman who could stand up against Republican women in Congress. By examining Douglas's campaign at both local and national levels and analyzing the accommodation politics that this campaign reveals, this article adds to the integrationist and separatist interpretations of women's partisan history and sheds new light on women's electoral success in a male-dominated political system.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-2036
Print ISSN
1042-7961
Pages
pp. 140-163
Launched on MUSE
2012-09-06
Open Access
No
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