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Mom Fights Back after Senator Criticizes Her for Running for Office

The Short of It

Ohio state senator Tom Patton is coming under fire for criticizing his Republican primary opponent's decision to run for office as a young mother.

The Lowdown

Patton, 62, is term-limited and is now going after an Ohio House seat. He's running against 30-year-old Jennifer Herold, who happens to be a mom to two boys, ages 1 and 3. In a recent radio interview on America's Workforce Radio, Patton attempted to discredit Herold for having young children, by making the following comment: "The gal that's running against me is a 30-year-old, you know, mom, mother of 2 infants," he said. "I don't know if anybody explained to her you have to spend three nights a week in Columbus. So, how does that work out for you? I waited until I was 48, 'til my kids were raised and at least adults."

Herold then took to the Herold for Ohio Facebook page to respond. She said, in part: "The decision to run for State Representative is one that my family and I took very seriously when we made it. We realize the sacrifice that is involved in holding such a position. However, Tom Patton has crossed a line by trying to turn the fact that I am a mother of two children, into a negative campaign issue. It's insulting for my opponent to suggest that 'motherhood' is a liability. In fact, my experience as a Mom is perhaps my greatest strength."

Patton has since apologized: "As a widower who raised five daughters, it was not my intention to suggest that a young mother couldn't serve ably in the legislature. I used a poor choice of words to express what I know first-hand—raising young children and working is tough. Millions of women do just that every day, including my own daughters... I sincerely apologize if my words were misplaced on this matter."

The Upshot

I'm not sure "misplaced" is the right word, Tom. And in fact, I think this commenter on Herold's Facebook page summed it up best: "Being a mother of a toddler and an infant probably makes you the most qualified candidate in the entire state. When you're elected they should make you speaker as you have plenty of experience in dealing with temper tantrums and infantile behavior."

We couldn't agree more. And in fact, Herold is now on a mission to start a national conversation about how to get working moms more engaged in the political process.

"In Ohio, women make up approximately 51 percent of the population. Yet we only hold 27 percent of the seats in The Ohio House and Senate," Herold wrote on Facebook. "We need to ask the question, why? Is it because there is a stigma against us? Are we afraid to get involved? Are we blocked from participating?"

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