The Race for U.S. Congress Karanveer Pannu

I will be focusing on the race in the Syracuse area, NY where Colleen Deacon (D) challenged incumbent John Katko (R) to represent the 24th Congressional District. According to ( this race is for the nation's number one swing seat and received national attention.

In the above video, Colleen Deacon addresses John Katko's independent voting record. Shortly after Deacon finishes her statement, Katko says, "Oh my, oh my" almost with a lackadaisical attitude in an attempt to undermine his opponent. The way Katko responded was highlighting the idea that masculinity will always win and it will help get the job done. If Deacon had been a man, I believe Katko's response would have been different.

In the above article, it explains what the candidates views are when it comes to certain issues. Colleen Deacon being a woman definitely played a role in her stance on abortion and women's healthcare than her male opponent. In "Running as a Woman" the authors note, "an election campaign is like a game in which the contestants are candidates, and the stakes are public office. Some of the rules change with identity. Some of the rules change if the constant is a woman" (Kirkpatrick, 85).

Colleen Deacon's background was a critical component of her campaign. She was a single mother which automatically was a red alert for some voters. As we discussed in class, voters need to have confidence that the candidate will do a good job while in office. Due to the fact that men have held office since the founding of this nation, every campaign is focused on 'toughness', 'image', 'personal background' of the candidate. Candidates go through intense scrutiny especially if they are women.

In the 'Man Enough' reading, Katz addresses the issue of white masculine power. That whenever events don't work out in their favor a small portion of them end up retaliating. In the above tweet, Katko says, "Overwhelming local support for a long term bill." Katko is surrounded by white men with maybe one or two white women.

In the above video, Deacon backs then Presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton. During the time of this video, the presidential campaign was in full swing. Hillary Clinton was under fire for her 'emails' and Donald Trump's troubling past or 'locker room talk' was leaked to the public. This goes back to the 'ideal' candidate in voters eyes, someone that is 'tough', a quality usually associated with masculinity. Women can be tough too but not too tough, Colleen Deacon ran during an unfortunate time where masculinity was front and center. Every American voter was talking about Donald Trump and his sexual harassment, which Trump used to strengthen his masculinity. According to Professor Dittmar's reading, "In 1981, Ruth Mandel wrote, "When he runs for public office, a man does not exhibit behavior unusual for his sex. Because he is performing in an arena where men have always been active, he is playing a role consistent with established social patterns.""


In this congressional race, Gender was definitely a critical factor which determined the overall outcome of the race. Although Colleen Deacon beat her Male Democratic counterparts in the primary, she could not defeat John Katko in the race. Being a female candidate is already an obstacle but what makes it even tougher to win as a woman is the whole set of circumstances which may hinder the candidate's likelihood of reaching the 'minimum level' to actually pose as a strong competitor. In this particular race, I believe gender did have a strategic role to play for the Democrats. I think it is one of the reasons why Colleen Deacon won the primary and surpassed the other two male candidates by a significant number of votes. Clearly, women have come a long way since the early struggles of attaining equal rights. Colleen Deacon's campaign confirms that women in elected office is possible, but as long as they meet the 'required' criteria. In Deacon's case, the Presidential campaign and her personal background may have been possible reasons as to why she couldn't pull through. Women candidates will always face the struggle of their identity being accepted by American voters. Key aspects we discussed in class such as the confidence and measurement gaps indicate that there is still room for improvement but progress is being made nonetheless.

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