I became very involved in politics, and started volunteering on campaigns. I got hooked on politics -- I think it's the most exciting and fun thing that I do. I've been appointed to three separate boards by three different governors, but I've never had the desire to be an elected official, because I think getting people there is a lot more important than being there myself. I really like helping people put together a viable campaign and then making them stick to some of those campaign promises -- I feel that's the most important part of my political work.
I can remember working actively on one political campaign, and yet when they were asking for money, no one ever asked me. Some people think that women never donate money, but that's a lie. Before, there was no expectation of women giving money, but that's changing quickly.
I've learned to start giving 'till it hurts. During the political season, I don't buy new clothes, I don't go out to dinner. I make major commitments to women candidates because I know how important it is.
I think EMILY's List is right on target. They're convincing women to give, to give more, and give consistently. They pick really solid candidates that meet their basic criteria, so you can trust their choices. When I see a candidate is backed by EMILY's List, I'm willing to put money into the campaign.
I used to write a check for $25, because it was easy. Now that same $25 check is always $100, and that's not so easy, but that's almost become a minimum for me. Not because I have so much more to give, but because it's so very important. I'm willing to do it because I know there's another woman who wants to and can't. And we've got to show that women can be a credible group of donors.
I've been in EMILY's List for several years, and I send the annual membership and contribute to three or four campaigns per year. I start at home first, with local races, and then I read the information they send and write checks to women in other states.
I supported Patty Murray, Jolene Unsoeld, I gave money to Carole Moseley- Braun and to Lynn Yeakel. I met Barbara Boxer a number of times and gave her money. I don't just support candidates from my own state because the issues are bigger than any one state. And getting women elected in more and more races helps us all.
I know that nearly $200,000 came into my state alone from women all around the country. So I would be really negligent if I didn't send checks out, too. In order to make the whole thing work, we have to send money out around the country.
My standard donation in a Congressional race is $1,000 in the primary and $1,000 in the general election. I know it sounds crazy, but this year I will give away about 15% of my income. It's a lot, but I feel I'm not really making a sacrifice if it doesn't mean anything to me. Sometimes I write checks, and then say, boy, I hope I can make all my other commitments.
There are times I drag myself out to one of these perfunctory political events, and once I get there I think, you know I really like these people!