Were you struck, like I was, by the big, close-up photos of Republican legislative leaders in the N&O last Sunday? Here’s the take of one longtime legislative observer (who’s not aligned with either party):
“It occurred to me that the N&O’s Sunday front-page spread was deliberate by the N&O to underscore a lack of GOP diversity. Why else would they photo a buncha white guys in identical poses? Why else would the N&O exclude a photo and bio of Danny McComas, a long-time prominent Hispanic GOP House member, or Julia Howard, a female GOPer who’s been there for decades and now is a leader. I think the N&O was not-so-subtly reminding its few remaining readers that these guys are the ones who’ll be guilty of slicing education and services to the poor.”
So I asked the N&O. Here’s the response I received from Mary Cornatzer, who oversees the paper’s coverage of state government:
“John Drescher asked me to respond to your query on how we picked the power brokers pictured as part of our legislative preview.
“Those six men as well as the five men and three women in the “others to watch” category were picked based on interviews, the votes for leadership positions and the considerable experience and knowledge of our legislative team, including Dan Kane, who led the effort.
“Obviously, when you limit your top picks (this time to six) there will be some who disagree with the choices. I think the mini-profiles explained why we chose the people we did.
“As for the two representatives your correspondent suggested, I asked Dan if he had considered them. His reply was that Rep. McComas is chairing the House commerce committee and that while it is important, it is not as powerful as finance, budget or rules. He disagreed with the idea that Rep. Howard had much power.
“Finally, for your correspondent who is worried about the lack of diversity, I would suggest they look to the ‘who serves’ graphic we ran: There are 132 men in the House and Senate and 38 women; 143 members are white, 25 are black, 1 is Hispanic and 1 is a Native American.
“Thank you for giving me the chance to respond.”