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Workshop Gives Idaho Women Tips on Succeeding in Politics

September 16, 1991

BOISE, Idaho (AP) _ When Democrat Sally Snodgrass scored a surprising victory in her first campaign last fall, she claimed a seat in the state Senate but no real role in the Legislature.

Men who dominated the chamber until the past decade froze her out, she said.

″I couldn’t remember the scores, whether the Dallas Cowboys won or lost last night,″ said Snodgrass, a homemaker before she was elected.

Undeterred, Snodgrass began meeting for breakfast to discuss the issues with fellow Senate Democrats, Sue Reents and Cynthia Scanlin.

That’s the sort of tactic offered as an example to the 40 or so women who attended workshops last weekend to encourage greater involvement for women in Idaho politics.

″Men tend to roll over and say to their wives, ’Oh, I think I’ll run for Congress today,‴ said Daryl Glenney of The Woman’s Edge, a Washington, D.C., consulting firm that ran the workshops.

″We’re urging women to look at the time ... knowing that they can catch up as easily as men can,″ she said.

Glenney and partner Carol Whitney said women must establish networks to build a pool of experienced candidates to break through male domination in the top political jobs in the state of just over 1 million people.

From deciding whether to run through strategy, from fund raising to dealing with the media, participants discussed the art of being a candidate and tactics for winning.

″Women start a step behind,″ Glenney said. ″They have to establish their credibility at every level.″

No Idaho woman has ever served as governor, U.S. senator, lieutenant governor, attorney general or secretary of state.

Democrat Gracie Pfost, who left office nearly 30 years ago, was the only woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from Idaho.

Last year Rachel Gilbert, a Republican, became the first woman this century to appear on a ballot for governor. She lost in the primary.

Women are relatively well-represented in the Legislature. Twenty-eight percent of the lawmakers are women, putting Idaho well ahead of the national average of 17 percent, according to a 1990 survey.

″There is a lot of dissatisfaction with elected officials,″ Whitney said. ″To me, that makes it an opportune time for women to move - if we have women in position to move. The drawback is that we don’t have enough of them ready to move.″

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