ICYMI: “Abortion Rights Has Become an Invaluable Political Asset for Democrats”


The New York Times
By Michael C. Bender and Anjali Huynh
November 29, 2023

  • Senator Sherrod Brown is betting that the issue will aid his re-election bid in Ohio, which recently upheld abortion rights. Allies of Senator Jon Tester of Montana are also hoping it helps.

  • “This issue’s not going away,” Mr. Brown said in an interview. “Women don’t trust Republicans on abortion, and they won’t for the foreseeable future — and they’re not going to trust these guys running against me.”

  • Since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last year, abortion rights has become an invaluable political asset for Democrats. They have leveraged the issue to hold onto control of the Senate, limit losses in the House and, this month, fuel victories in key state races across the Midwest and the South.

  • So far, voters even in conservative states have consistently prioritized abortion protections over their partisanship. That was true last year in Kansas, where 59 percent of voters rejected a measure to remove abortion rights protections from the State Constitution, and again this month in Ohio, where 57 percent of voters agreed to enshrine such rights in their Constitution.

  • This year, Mr. Brown’s campaign has already released a video attacking his three potential Republican challengers as extreme on abortion. In Montana, the Democratic Party has taken a similar approach on behalf of Mr. Tester.

  • “The thing I think a lot of people miss with Sherrod is that he knows abortion is an economic issue,” said Nan Whaley, a Democratic former mayor of Dayton, Ohio, who ran for governor last year. “Abortion rights and abortion access maybe wasn’t discussed as much in previous campaigns, but that’s because it was before the fall of Roe.”

  • The National Republican Senatorial Committee is coaching candidates…but not all Republicans are on board, as the party’s Senate primary race in Ohio shows.

  • One top candidate, Frank LaRose, the Ohio secretary of state, has supported a national ban and opposed exceptions for rape and incest — and also unsuccessfully campaigned against the abortion ballot question.
  • Another contender, Bernie Moreno, a businessman seeking his first elected office, has said he supports exceptions for rape, incest and the life of the woman, but he told a reporter from Breitbart News last year that he did not. He has also expressed support for a 15-week federal ban.
  • The third leading candidate, Matt Dolan, a state senator, opposed the state’s constitutional amendment this month.

  • Democrats contend that Republican support for a federal ban would help keep the issue alive, arguing that such a measure would undermine the will of Ohio voters.

  • A poll commissioned by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee recommended that messaging focus on G.O.P. support for a “national abortion ban” and that politicians should not be involved in “personal medical decisions.” Abortion rights groups have encouraged candidates to simultaneously adopt a “proactive” platform that calls for expanding access to contraception and maternal health resources while highlighting Republican involvement in abortion restrictions.

  • Mr. Brown was involved in the campaign this year to support the constitutional amendment on abortion, phone-banking alongside the Ohio Democratic Party and frequently bringing up the measure during campaign events.

  • Hours after Ohioans voted, Mr. Brown posted a video on social media that framed his three potential Republican challengers as sitting on the wrong side of the issue. “All of my opponents would support a national abortion ban,” the caption read.


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