Public advocate candidate Reshma Saujani tries to unite women to vote against New York’s sleazy political candidates.
Women should run this town.
That’s the argument public advocate candidate Reshma Saujani is making in an appeal to female voters that she’s launching Monday.
The campaign, called “Up to Us,” will encourage women to vote against four men who have behaved badly — mayoral hopeful Anthony Weiner, controller candidate Eliot Spitzer and two Democrats running for City Council, Vito Lopez and Micah Kellner.
All four have been embroiled in sex or sexual harassment scandals.
“There’s a distinct amount of outrage among women that I’ve felt and it is palpable,” said Saujani, 37.
“We’re having a conversation about sex. This isn’t a fraternity party and it shouldn’t be treated that way — and it is.”
She added, “I am not voting for Weiner or Spitzer and I wouldn’t vote for Vito Lopez or Micah Kellner either.”
Weiner resigned from Congress in 2011 for sexting a half-dozen women he met online, and then had three more sexting relationships. Spitzer stepped down as governor in 2008 for patronizing prostitutes. Lopez resigned from the Assembly amid allegations he sexually harassed his staff, and Kellner made unwanted advances on a young staffer.
“It shows this abuse of power and supporting them is sending a message that that behavior is OK and it turns women off of politics,” said Saujani, who ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 2010 and worked as a deputy public advocate under Bill de Blasio. She has not endorsed anyone for mayor.
Saujani’s criticism of the scandal-plaged male pols does not extend to their wives. “I have the utmost amount of respect for Huma [ABEDIN],” she said of Weiner’s wife, who has stood by him.
Saujani’s social media campaign will encourage women to change their avatars on Twitter to the “Up To Us” logo and spread the word. For example, participants will be encouraged to Tweet, “I’m voting for more women to enter male-dominated fields #UpToUs.”
Actress Sophia Bush, and the national Women’s Campaign Fund, are onboard, Saujani said.
Not all New York women were sold on her gender-based appeal.
“The women of New York respectfully disagree,” said Spitzer aide Lis Smith. Pointing to a Quinnipiac University poll that showed Spitzer had a high favorability rating among women, she added, “Eliot is winning women voters because they know he will be an independent voice in the controller’s office.”
Another woman candidate for public advocate, Letitia James, said, “Obviously there are individuals running who have character flaws. But this is a distraction from the real issues New Yorkers care about.” Another woman, Cathy Guerriero, is also running for public advocate.
The only woman running for mayor, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, has played the gender card in attacking Weiner.
She held a press conference 10 days ago featuring the president of the National Organization for Women, who said, “Mr. Weiner does have a problem and his behavior is sexist. Let’s be clear: It is not respectful of women.”