BOSTON — Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski used her prime-time slot Monday night at the Democratic National Convention to say it is important for women to be involved in politics because they govern differently from men.
“When we seek power, it’s not about power for ourselves. It’s about power to help people’s lives,” she said.
Mikulski, the first Democratic woman elected to the Senate in her own right, said she “couldn’t be more proud” of her colleagues, the other eight Democratic women in the Senate. “Though I was first, I didn’t want to be the first and only.”
The three-term senator, who is up for re-election in November, delivered the address following a video presentation honoring the Democratic women senators. As the longest serving of all 14 women senators, including nine Democrats, she is often called their dean.
Mikulski, 67, is one of four Maryland politicians giving prominent speeches at this year’s convention. Baltimore Mayor Martin O’Malley, and Reps. Elijah Cummings, of Baltimore, and Steny Hoyer, of Mechanicsville, are also making notable appearances.
Mikulski was elected to the Senate in 1986, just two years after Sen. John F. Kerry, D-Mass., the party’s presumed nominee for president. She is considered the more liberal of the two by Americans for Democratic Action, a liberal lobbying group that evaluates congressmen and senators annually on how well their voting record matches the group’s positions. The group gave Mikulski a 94 percent lifetime rating and Kerry an 85 percent.
She shares membership on the Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee with North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, the party’s presumed vice presidential candidate. Both also serve on the Select Committee on Intelligence.
Reaction among Maryland’s delegates after the speech was positive.
“I thought it was wonderful. She always delivers. It’s an extraordinary thing that she was the first . . . and there are nine now,” said Dan Rupli, a Kerry delegate for the 6th Congressional District. “She was the pioneer and we love her.”
Donna Callejon, an Edwards delegate for the 8th District, called the speech solid. “It underscored what she’s stood for her whole career.”
Rejoining her delegation after the speech, Mikulski said, “I felt that people were not only cheering for me, but they were cheering for the fact that there are nine Democratic women in the Senate.”
Mikulski’s appearance is part of a campaign by the party to reach out to women voters. Kerry “has a band of brothers, but we have a band of sisters,” she said earlier in the day.
Capital News Service writer Kevin McCullough contributed to this report. – 30 – CNS-7-26-04