Episode 4 - Political Spouses
It’s no secret that political campaigns are all-consuming. From the financial strain of fundraising to the grind-it-out of doorbelling, a candidate must have an “all-in” attitude just to endure. To stay sane, a candidate also needs a strong system of personal support. But what about the family members and spouses of those candidates? How do these loved ones— who are often less-enthusiastically dragged along for the ride—survive the toils of the campaign and the challenges of elected office? Election University podcast host Jason Bennett interviews political spouses to get the insider’s survival guide to politics. This episode features Charlyn Daugherty, wife of Republican Travis County Commissioner Gerald Daugherty, whose campaign ad went viral and narrowly won them the election (and an Emmy!).
Jason also interviews Steve Williamson, labor advocate and husband to Democratic Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal of Washington’s 7th Congressional District. If you haven’t yet seen Travis County Commissioner Gerald Daugherty’s viral re-election video, the ad’s secret sauce is Gerald’s wife, Charlyn. Charming and effective, the ad illustrates the real impact that political spouses can have on their partner’s career. Though a once-reluctant participant in her husband’s political aspirations, Charlyn has played a significant role in his re-election. Now she shares her advice on navigating the intersection of personal and political. Steve Williamson, a longtime labor organizer and advocate, was not a political newcomer before Congresswoman Jayapal ran for office. The couple had parallel interests in community organizing and advocacy, and Steve was an early and eager supporter of his wife’s political aspirations. Just after 9/11, Pramila founded Hate Free Zone (later OneAmerica) to combat the anti-immigrant sentiment sweeping the nation. She ran for Washington State Senate and later was elected to Congress to represent Washington’s 7th District. A state legislative and a Congressional race later, Steve debriefs with Jason to share his practical advice on remaining a team, setting roles and responsibilities, and keeping it all in perspective.
Many thanks to both Charlyn and Steve for talking with us this week on the Election University podcast. Listeners, we want to hear from you! Are you a political spouse? Tell us about your experience. What advice do you have for the politicians and the people who love them? If you are a future candidate or spouse, what are your biggest concerns with the campaign?
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