Duffy said Democrats have benefitted from other events this year, including Snowe’s retirement, the defeat of Republican Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana in a GOP primary and Republican Rep. Todd Akin of Missouri damaging himself with his claim that victims of “legitimate rape” have defenses that prevent them from getting pregnant.
Consequently, Duffy said, “In some ways, I don’t know if it’s fair to say (that) if Democrats have a very, very successful night, it will be because of these women.”
Murray, who turned 62 last week, said this year’s female candidates “tell the story of America in a great way that inspires people.”
National Republican Senatorial Committee spokesman Brian Walsh mocked Murray for pushing the “year of the woman” theme, since she appears to ignore the Democratic woman candidate in a closely watched race in Maine. “It’s the ‘year of the woman’ except when it’s not convenient,” said Walsh. “They won’t even acknowledge their own nominee.”
State Sen. Cynthia Dill, the Democratic candidate in a tight three-way race for the Senate, was so furious at the lack of DSCC support for her that she put out a forceful letter this summer she sent to Murray – and one which the NRSC helpfully put on its website. Democrats are banking that the popular independent, former Gov. Angus King, will caucus with the Democrats if he wins.
Elsewhere, one of Murray’s top targets is Massachusetts, where she helped recruit Democrat Elizabeth Warren in an attempt to oust freshman Republican Sen. Scott Brown.
Pressing the case for Warren last week, Murray called a press conference the day after Brown said in a debate that Antonin Scalia would be his “model” justice on the U.S. Supreme Court. Murray reminded voters that Scalia opposed the ruling in Roe v. Wade, the court case that legalized abortion, and that he once said there is no constitutional right to birth control.
Democrats have been emphasizing women’s issues in their advertising, as well. A week ago, the DSCC released a new ad in the Nevada Senate race, accusing Republican Rep. Dean Heller of voting to reduce access to mammograms, contraception and prenatal screening. Earlier this month, the committee released an ad in Arizona accusing Republican Rep. Jeff Flake of voting to deny women access to health care, and another ad in Virginia accused Republican George Allen of voting against legislation to protect women from wage discrimination.
Murray said that senators would be more willing to work together and compromise if there were more elected women. When Congress’ “supercommittee” that she led last year failed to come up a $1.2 trillion deficit-reduction plan, she said that women “don’t mess around,” and that the outcome could well have been different with more women on the special panel.
In the recent interview, Murray said that two Senate Appropriations subcommittees headed by women – the transportation panel that she led with Republican ranking member Susan Collins of Maine and the commerce panel led by Democrat Barbara Mikulski of Maryland and ranking Republican Hutchison were the first to complete their work this year.
“That’s a tribute to the kind of work women do, even in a very tough environment, when everybody says you can’t work together,” Murray said.
Maria Recio contributed to this report.