Documenting the American South Logo
oral histories of the American South
Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Anne Barnes, January 30, 1989. Interview C-0049. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Republican women in 1980s North Carolina rose to greater influence in their party than female Democrats

Barnes explores why Republican women in North Carolina rose to greater influence in their party than female Democrats did during the 1980s. Though she finds the situation ironic, she also finds it easily explicable.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Anne Barnes, January 30, 1989. Interview C-0049. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

ANNE BARNES:
I think that perhaps the Democratic Party has not done enough to nurture or foster women candidates. Sometimes when the powers that be in the Party are looking around for candidates to run for certain high positions, I'm not sure that the thought is coming in their minds that there are many qualified women and that for the Party's ticket to be a balanced one, that women and blacks need to be considered for the good of the entire Party. To have that kind of representation on our statewide ticket is a healthy thing. And it's not that I think that someone should be given the nod BECAUSE they are black or BECAUSE they are a woman, but a sensitivity to the fact that these are people who have stuck with the Party, worked for the Party for years and years and years and have gained enough expertise now that many could do an excellent job in the statewide positions. So I don't think the Democratic Party has been as sensitive to that as it should be. We kid some in the General Assembly, the women there, we do have a Women's Legislative Caucus, and we all get along fairly well. You know, lots of different philosophies there. We're not all alike on every issue, but we like each other, and we try to be supportive of each other personally and enjoy that Caucus. But we kid around, the Democratic women do, and say that opportunities right now for women are greater in the Republican Party than the Democratic Party. Some reasons for feeling that are the fact that, as I told you, I think, when the tape was not running, that Representative Betsy Cochrane, who is a Republican, was elected Minority Leader in the House and is the only woman to ever serve in a position of elected leader by her Party in the House, and that's a positive move. More and more women are being elected to the legislature from the Republican Party. So the gap in numbers there between the parties is fast closing. The Republican ticket this past election, statewide ticket, had a woman and a black on it. The Democratic ticket had all white males, so it's interesting to see that happening in the two parties. One thing that you might say, to explain that a little bit, is that the Republican Party in North Carolina has not been in power so long that it has a knot of people at the top. So there's not as many people, there are more openings because there's not a fistful of people at the top holding onto those positions. So they have the opportunity to move women up faster than Democrats do because of the situation we found ourselves in with so many already in positions that they want to hold on to.