Denise Majette made history this week, becoming the first woman and first black candidate nominated to the U.S Senate in Georgia. She easily won a Democratic runoff election against businessman Cliff Oxford on Tuesday, taking 59 percent of the vote. The runoff was forced after none of the eight Democratic candidates won a majority in a July primary.
Her victory is also one for abortion rights supporters. Majette, who previously served one term in the House, is pro-choice with a 100 percent rating from the Planned Parenthood Action Fund.
Majette’s campaign was also notable because it relied almost exclusively on grassroots efforts. She ran no TV ads for her primary campaign, due to limited finances, while the millionaire Oxford launched an aggressive TV campaign.
Majette’s challenge, however, is just beginning. She faces Republican nominee Johnny Isakson in November for the seat currently held by Senator Zell Miller, who is retiring. Political pundits predict Isakson has the edge since the state tends to lean Republican. Isakson, who is anti-choice, is also well-financed and well known in Georgia.
But Majette is not backing off. "They called me a long shot before; now they call me congresswoman," she told The Atlanta Journal Constitution. If elected, Majette will be the only black woman serving in the U.S. Senate and the first since Illinois Senator Carol Moseley Braun, who left the Senate in 1999.
A few female Olympic athletes are kicking off the games by highlighting their bodies, rather than their athletic abilities.
The latest issue of Playboy magazine hit newsstands the same day as the Olympics opening ceremony, featuring U.S. high jumper Amy Acuff on the cover in her black and white practice clothes. The cover reads: "The Women of the Olympics, 12 Pages of Spectacular Nudes" and features photos of Acuff and seven other Olympic hopefuls.
Acuff also shares the cover of September’s FHM Magazine with four other American Olympians–swimmers Amanda Beard and Haley Cope, track athlete Jenny Adams and volleyball player Logan Tom. They all appear in sexy white bikinis, their bodies glowing and bronzed for the "Sexy Olympic Special!"
Acuff told the New York Times that she agreed to appear in Playboy as long as the photos were tasteful and didn’t require full frontal nudity. "I did it for the financial aspect," she said. "It’s really hard to make that kind of money in the real world." Acuff is also keeping a diary of her Olympic experiences on Playboy’s Web site.
Donna de Varona, a member of the International Olympic Committee’s Women and Sport Commission, expressed concern about the photo spreads.
"It has ramifications for other women athletes who don’t make those choices, usually in terms of the bottom line and visibility," the Olympic swimming champion Varona told Women’s eNews from Athens. De Varona, who also co-founded the Women’s Sports Foundation, was asked to pose in Playboy in the 1960s and declined.
"These women feel this is how to play the game. I’m not judgmental, but I’m disappointed. I don’t see this as celebrating the athletic body but as exploiting sex," she added.
— Juhie Bhatia.