Maryland received a new No. 1 title for Gov. Martin O'Malley to crow about Wednesday as the Center for American Progress ranked its the best of the 50 states for women.
And crow the governor did, releasing a statement saying he and Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown were "thrilled" by the distinction.
“Working together, we have made great strides in making Maryland a great place for women to live, lead, and learn," O'Malley said.
The ranking is unlikely to impress conservatives because the Center for American Progress is a liberal group that counted such things as unimpeded access to abortion services and contraception among its criteria for a positive rating. But the title could give Maryland bragging rights among the blue states and could be a plus for O'Malley as a possible presidential candidate making a pitch to women who vote in Democratic primaries.
O'Malley is fond of recounting the various categories in which Maryland has been ranked by various groups as No. 1 -- including the quality of its public schools and its entrepreneurship. It's likely this latest ranking will become a staple of his speeches.
The center put Maryland ahead of Hawaii, Vermont, California and Delaware among the best states for women to live. Louisiana was ranked dead last, with Utah, Oklahoma, Alabama and Mississippi rounding out the bottom five. Texas, which has been in the news lately for Republican Gov. Rick Perry's efforts to lure businesses from Maryland, ranked 45th.
Not surprisingly, given the center's leanings, all Top Five states are solidly Democratic, while the Bottom 5 are all reliably Republican. Nineteen of the top 20 (all but Alaska) went for President Obama in the 2012 election, while all of the Bottom 20 went for Mitt Romney.
The center ranked Maryland No. 1 in terms of women's economic standing and leadership opportunities. It was rated 17th in terms of women's health.
Among the 36 factors taken into account were women's income levels, poverty rates and representation in the state legislature and Congress. Also considered were levels of infant and maternal mortality, as well as the availability of paid sick leave and family and access to early childhood education. States were downgraded for such things as requiring ultrasounds before a woman can have an abortion and defunding Planned Parenthood.
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