Women's rights becomes hot button issue in state senate race
As the race for the 55th State Senate District heats up, women's rights has become a hot button issue.
In that race, former anchor Rich Funke is taking on the man that currently holds the seat, State Senator Ted O'Brien.
In his ads, Funke wants you to know he supports women's rights.
"His passion for the community is simply unwavering."
Those are the words of Funke's former WHEC colleague Robin de Wind in a new advertisement meant to show women can trust Funke.
She says, "Rich served as the editorial leader in the newsroom. He never hesitated to stand in my corner when the lead for the evening news needed to be a story about a complex women's health issue."
But Friday, a group of protestors gathered outside Funke's headquarters saying he isn't doing enough and is opposed to part of the Women's Equality Act.
Protester Betty DeFazio says, "This fight is really about, not just me personally, but for our sisters, our aunts, our mothers, our grandmothers, and the children to come, to have full equality."
A new Siena College poll shows incumbent O'Brien is trailing Funke in the race for the 55th district. But O'Brien says Funke has yet to publicly explain to voters where he stands.
"As an elected official," says O'Brien. "It's important for us to be able to engage with people on issues that are important to them. They need to hear from us."
So how important are women voters? We took that question to analyst Timothy Kneeland.
He says, "Women have become one of the most important groups in their persistence and consistence in voting. And why is that important? It's a midterm election."
Funke was not made available to us for an on-camera interview Friday, but his campaign staff did issue this statement saying:
"Rich Funke cares deeply about women's rights, health and safety, and that's why, when he is elected to the senate, he will fight to enact an equal pay law and protections against workplace discrimination, harassment and domestic abuse."