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Chesterbrook Precinct: Women divided over meaning of McDonnell thesis

We've been asking mothers with daughters at the Chesterbrook polling place in McLean what impact Republican candidate Robert McDonnell's 1989 graduate school thesis had on their voting decision. While Republicans downplay it and Democrats cite it as proof that McDonnell's out of the mainstream, independents don't seem strongly influenced by it.

Ann Merchant, 37, is a Democrat who just voted for Deeds. She didn't vote in June's Democratic primary because she didn't feel strongly about any of the three candidates, and she remains lukewarm for Deeds. She's alarmed, though, about McDonnell.

"The thesis is a serious problem for me - as a feminist and someone who supports gay rights," she said. "Definitely I feel like he's a reactionary."

Tracie Becker, 45, a registered Democrat, is backing McDonnell. In fact, she picked her party's candidate for every office except governor. She said that she doesn't think the Republican really believes what he wrote 20 years ago.

"Unlike most of the talking head pundits, I view McDonnell as someone who has moved to the center," Becker said, as her six-year-old daughter Shelby munched on a chocolate cookie that a Republican volunteer gave her. "With his own daughters, he as much as anyone wants a fair playing ground for gender equality issues."

Many downplayed the social issues, including independent Shirley Camp, who said personality mattered more than policy. She decided to support Deeds after watching a televised debate about two weeks ago.

"I really wouldn't mind either way," said Camp, 75. "It was mannerisms as much as anything. [Deeds is] modest. I find that kind of person who doesn't think they know it all very attractive. In these jobs, nobody can know all the answers."

By James Hohmann  |  November 3, 2009; 3:39 PM ET
Categories:  Election 2009 , Election Day '09: Chesterbrook Precinct  
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Let us compare 2 different documents.

First, Bob McDonnell's thesis that sat in a file cabinet, read by maybe 2 people for 20 years until the Post went to dig it up. How much impact did that have? None.

Now, let's look at the impact of Sen Jim Webb's treaty on "Why Women Can't Fight" and the amount of real damage that did to women in the services. That article set women in the military back a decade. It was read by thousands and he never truly renounced that position. Has anyone read the Post comparing the two? Why is it ok for Webb to be a Senator but McDonnell not a Governor?

Posted by: Barnacle-Bill | November 3, 2009 5:45 PM | Report abuse

You make valid points, BB, regarding Webb's notes...but also what's funny to me (and I'm not saying this to you, specifically, Bill) is that some McDonnell supporters are brushing off what he said in his thesis many years ago, but could not do the same for Michelle Obama -- who wasn't even running for office -- regarding her thesis from many years ago.

Posted by: pghterp | November 3, 2009 6:25 PM | Report abuse

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