By Nicole Kurokawa 01/19/10 at 12:59 pm

Special interests and lobbyists have descended on Massachusetts, bearing money, volunteers, and campaign slogans in advance of today’s special election to fill the seat vacated by the “liberal lion of the Senate.” The race has become close in this solidly blue state, as the 30-point lead once held by Democratic candidate Martha Coakley vanished in the past two weeks. The two camps are in frantic electioneering mode going into the home stretch, desperately trying to convince voters why their candidate should be elected. But by far, the most ridiculous argument can be summed up in one word: sex.

Yes, the feminists are at it again, claiming that Coakley should be elected based solely on her gender. The National Organization of Women’s Political Action Committee trumpeted in a December press release that “If Coakley prevails as expected in the Jan. 19 general election, she will be the first woman senator from the state of Massachusetts, and she will double to two the number of women in the state’s current 12-member congressional delegation.” This sentiment is echoed by Emily’s List, who asserts the election “presents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to elect the first woman senator from Massachusetts.” Both organizations claim to advocate political, economic, and social equity of the sexes. Unfortunately, true equality would demand that candidates be judged on their qualifications and policy proposals–not accorded special treatment based on chromosomal makeup.

A recent study by Americans for Tax Reform found that Coakley’s support for the Senate health care bill–which imposes a $2 billion per year tax on medical device manufacturers–would endanger 22,000 jobs in the state of Massachusetts, a state where one out of every 150 jobs is in the medical device industry. And both the House and Senate bills currently being merged behind closed doors contain a slew of new taxes and regulations that will drive up the cost of health care for families.

At least Coakley’s economic policy is gender blind: it negatively impacts both men and women alike. She is on the record as saying “we need to get taxes up,” in direct contrast to her opponent’s stance that “raising taxes stifles growth, weakens the economy and puts more people out of work.” While Attorney General, she created a new bureaucratic agency to “encourage economic development,” raising the administrative burden for taxpayers throughout the state (which ironically impedes, not encourages, development). And on her website, she announces plans to “to ensure resources and incentives are available to attract businesses to Massachusetts and keep them here,” which in layman’s terms means “dole out earmarks paid for by the rest of the country.”

Alas, many of the other policies espoused by Ms. Coakley will hurt taxpayers, small businesses, and working families not only in Massachusetts, but throughout the country. She is an advocate of cap-and-trade, a policy which CBO Director Doug Elmendorf acknowledged in October 2009 “would reduce GDP below what it would otherwise have been-by roughly .25 to .75 percent in 2020 and by between 1 and 3.5 percent in 2050.” And her staunch defense of teachers’ unions–which includes protecting pensions, persecuting charter schools, and wholehearted opposing programs that would give parents additional options for their children’s education – serves entrenched interests at the expense of future generations.

If women’s groups claim to truly be concerned about advancing women’s interests, they would be well-served to look beyond candidates’ gender, and examine what impact their policies will actually have on women, children, and families. Voters should consider Coakley’s platform at the polls–not whether she is a man or woman.

 Nicole Kurokawa is a senior policy analyst at the Independent Women’s Voice [1], a 501(c)(4).