Earlier this month, over coffee at the Columbia Tower, two of the most prominent voices in the local women's rights movement had a private meeting with Stephanie Pure—a city council aide to Peter Steinbrueck—who is one of two women making a run for the open state house seat in Seattle's 43rd District (Capitol Hill, University District, and Wallingford).

According to Pure, 32, the two women's rights leaders asked her to drop out of the race, based on their belief that educator Lynne Dodson, 45, the other female candidate in the 43rd, would have a better chance of winning that way. "They made their request, I said 'No,' and that was the end of the meeting," Pure said. "I think we have to give the voters more credit than that. I don't think it's hurting a woman's chances to have more women running."

Linda Mitchell, chair of the National Women's Political Caucus of Washington (NWPC), confirmed she met with Pure about the race, and that Karen Cooper, director of NARAL Pro-Choice Washington, was also present. Mitchell declined to talk about what was discussed. Cooper was traveling and unavailable for comment.

At the meeting, Cooper and Mitchell made clear to Pure that they were not acting on behalf of their organizations. (The NWPC has endorsed Dodson and NARAL has not yet decided whether to endorse a candidate.) But Pure, a founding board member of the Vera Project who helped repeal the Teen Dance Ordinance, said she got the "vague impression" she was being offered a deal: Drop out of this race and be assured of support from the women's movement in a future race.

Mitchell, though she wouldn't talk about the conversation, did not dispel this notion, saying she "would love to be able to support Stephanie"—meaning she would love to support Pure some other time, but she currently supports Dodson.

As for why a race with four men and two women should have fewer women involved, NWPC's Mitchell said: "I want to see a woman win that seat. And when voters are offered a choice of two great women, then it limits each woman's chances of winning."