Super PAC forms to elect liberal women governors

“American LeadHERship PAC” registered by former EMILY's List official

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A former EMILY’s List official has launched a new super PAC to help elect liberal women governors.

Kate Coyne-McCoy has registered the “American LeadHERship PAC” with the Federal Election Commission, according to documents filed with the agency Tuesday.

In a telephone interview, Coyne-McCoy told the Center for Public Integrity that creating a super PAC would be the most effective method to aid female gubernatorial candidates.

“To compete in today’s political environment, that’s the tool you need,” Coyne-McCoy said.

Her group will be “dedicated to increasing the ranks of progressive women in governors' seats across the country,” according to its website, which notes that nearly half of U.S. states have never elected a female governor.

The super PAC’s website also plays up recent state-level fights over abortion and reproductive rights.

“Battles over what we thought were long-settled women's rights have erupted across the country and are being fought in state legislatures,” the website states. “But today, these laws are being decided — almost exclusively — by men.”

This month, Republican Govs. Scott Walker of Wisconsin and John Kasich of Ohio each signed contentious anti-abortion bills into law. And last month, Democratic Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis gained national attention as she successfully filibustered proposed abortion regulations — although the measures are again moving forward. (Some Democrats in Texas are now calling for Davis to consider a 2014 gubernatorial bid.)

Coyne-McCoy declined to identify any particular gubernatorial races that her super PAC would target — or specific fundraising plans.

This year, there are two gubernatorial elections on the docket.

Incumbent Republican Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey is seeking to fend off a challenge from Barbara Buono, the Democratic leader in the state senate. And in Virginia, Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and former Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe are vying for the state’s top job.

In 2014, 36 states will hold gubernatorial elections. Of those states, 23 of the gubernatorial seats are in Republican control while the other 13 are held by Democrats.

The only Democratic female governor up for re-election next year is Gov. Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire.

On the Republican side, three women are eligible to run for another term: New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin.

Over her career, Coyne-McCoy has trained thousands of women candidates in the United States and abroad.

She currently heads a Rhode Island-based political consulting firm she formed last year called Campaign Fixer KCM Consulting.

Previously, she served as the executive director of the National Coalition for Accountability in Political Spending, which aims to bring more transparency to corporate political activity, and she worked as a regional director for EMILY’s List, a group that aides Democratic women running for federal office who support abortion rights.

Coyne-McCoy was also as the executive director of the Rhode Island chapter National Association of Social Workers from 1991 to 2002. In 2000, she made a run for office of her own as a Democratic candidate in Rhode Island’s Second Congressional District, but she did not advance past the primary.

EMILY’s List itself also operates a super PAC, called “Women Vote!” which, in 2010, was among the first political committees to use large contributions from donors to expressly call for the election of federal candidates.

Ahead of the 2012 election, Women Vote! spent nearly $8 million on behalf of its preferred Democratic candidates, according to federal records.