What They’re Saying: LaRose is Ohio’s “Biggest Loser,” “Abortion Remains a Major Driving Force”

Ohio voters’ rejection of Issue 1 ahead of the November abortion vote “proved that the state-by-state battle over abortion rights is still a serious motivator to get voters to the polls,” and that Republicans continue to be “at odds with the electorate on the issue of abortion rights.” 

Meanwhile, GOP Senate candidate and sitting Secretary of State Frank LaRose — the “main architect” and “cheerleader-in-chief for Issue 1” who “made himself the face of the ‘yes’ campaign” — is “at the top of the list of the biggest losers.”

Here’s what they’re saying: 

POLITICO: Abortion rights won big in Ohio. Here’s why it wasn’t particularly close.
Republicans again feel wrath of abortion rights supporters.
By Madison Fernandez, Alice Miranda Ollstein and Zach Montellaro
August 8, 2023

  • Opponents of Issue 1 view the victory as the first battle on abortion in the coming cycle, when the issue will be a factor in competitive Senate and House races.
  • Tuesday’s election proved that the state-by-state battle over abortion rights is still a serious motivator to get voters to the polls — even when abortion isn’t directly on the ballot … [and] anti-abortion messaging isn’t evolving, or resonating.”

CNN: 4 takeaways from abortion rights advocates’ Ohio win
By Eric Bradner
August 9, 2023

  • [Ohio’s election] on Tuesday demonstrat[es] that – even in red states – Republicans are at odds with the electorate on the issue of abortion rights.
  • The results underscore the new political reality, one that’s been repeatedly demonstrated in both blue and red states: Since the Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade last year, abortion rights are a major, driving force.

  • GOP efforts to deliver long-promised abortion bans to the conservative base are triggering the sort of electoral backlash the party was able to escape while Roe v. Wade was in force… Republicans’ opposition to abortion rights continues to hamstring the party – and legislative pushes such as Issue 1 could shift the focus of elections in key states onto politically problematic ground for the GOP.
  • A CNN poll conducted by SSRS released Tuesday showed that Americans’ discontent with the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade remains as potent as it was a year ago, with a record-high share of the public saying that they’re likely to take a candidate’s position on abortion into consideration when voting. The new poll suggests that the issue’s importance as an electoral litmus test hasn’t diminished. 

NBC News: Defeat in Ohio’s abortion proxy war another red flag for GOP
By Chuck Todd, Ben Kamisar and Bridget Bowman
August 9, 2023

  • In election after election since the fall of Roe vs. Wade, voters continue to give the same answer on abortion. 
  • An up-or-down vote in a swing state like Michigan during their general election, a late-summer vote in a red state like Kansas and an indirect vote in Ohio dressed up more as process than substance all delivered the same result — a win for the pro-abortion rights side. 
  • Tuesday’s vote is yet another warning sign for Republicans as they enter the ring in 2024, where they could have trouble dodging the one–two punch of abortion and former President Donald Trump.

  • Since Roe was overturned, there has been a lot of evidence that both abortion and Trump have been detrimental to Republicans. 

The Messenger: Ohio Voters Reject GOP Initiative Seen As Proxy Vote on Abortion
Issue 1 would have made it harder to change the state constitution ahead of a November vote on an abortion-rights amendment
By Matt Holt and Dan Merica
August 8, 2023

  • [Ohio voters] overwhelmingly rejected a ballot measure that would make it harder to amend the state’s constitution, one that was widely seen as a proxy fight over abortion rights.
  • The biggest loser in the fight over this issue is Secretary of State Frank LaRose. LaRose, a Republican, made himself the face of the “yes” campaign, crisscrossing the state to urge voters to back the issue and centering is newly launched Senate campaign on the issue.
  • “This is 100% about keeping a radical pro-abortion amendment out of our constitution. The left wants to jam it in there this coming November,” LaRose said in June.
  • “The implosion of Issue 1 could be extremely detrimental to LaRose’s fundraising,” said a Republican strategist working in Senate races. “He made himself the face of this issue and then it went down in brutal fashion.”

Vanity Fair: Ohio’s Special Election Shows Abortion Is Still Driving People to the Polls
Voters’ rebuke of a Republican-let ballot initiative should serve as a warning shot to the GOP that its culture-war agenda might not be a winner.
By Abigail Tracy 
August 9, 2023

  • Ohio voters showed up in force for a special election Tuesday to defeat a Republican-led effort that would have made it more difficult to codify abortion protections, showing reproductive rights remains a galvanizing issue at the ballot box.

  • Perhaps in a tacit acknowledgment of the sheer unpopularity of their antiabortion agenda, Republicans have become increasingly creative, and sneaky, in their efforts to undermine reproductive rights. In Ohio, Republicans took aim at the democratic process, with ballot initiative Issue 1.

  • When abortion has been on the ballot since the fall of Roe v. Wade, antiabortion activists have lost, over and over and over. The ballot initiative’s failure not only shows the continued mobilizing power of abortion rights, but also puts the electability of Republicans’ culture-war agenda further into question.

  • Just over a year ago, Kansans were the first to take abortion rights to the ballot box post-Roe. Since, voters in a number of states have similarly knocked down attempts to restrict abortion access or enshrined protections—including in Montana, Kentucky, California, Michigan, and Vermont.

WVXU: Commentary: Ohio’s GOP just learned voters are not as gullible as they think
By Howard Wilkinson
August 8, 2023

  • Ohio Senate President Matt Huffman, who wanted this more than anything to try to squelch the reproductive rights amendment on the November ballot, and Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose, the cheerleader-in-chief for Issue 1, are the ones chiefly responsible for this GOP disaster.

  • LaRose, the most enthusiastic supporter of Issue 1 among Ohio Republican elected officials, made the job of hiding the abortion rights connection that much harder when he was caught on video at a Seneca County Republican Party event saying that Issue 1 was “100%” about keeping abortion rights groups’ hands off the Ohio constitution.
  • LaRose wasted a lot of time trying to explain what he meant, but no one seemed to be listening and that short video clip became the centerpiece of the “No on 1” TV ad campaign.

Washington Post: 4 takeaways from rejection of Issue 1 in the Ohio special election
By Aaron Blake
August 8, 2023

  • Ohio becomes the latest in a succession of states to deliver a setback to antiabortion forces after Roe v. Wade was overturned last year.

  • It’s another sizable loss for antiabortion forces in the ballot wars. The abortion rights position had won in all six states that featured such ballot measures after Roe was overturned last summer, including taking between 52 percent and 59 percent in a trio of red states.

  • Democrats this year have over-performed even their good 2020 election results in a strong majority of special elections this year — by an average of more than seven points. That continues a trend that began almost instantly upon Roe being overturned last year.

  • [Frank LaRose’s] primary opponent has already been attacking him for alleged strategic failures. Ohio voters reject State Issue 1, defeating hurdle for abortion-rights vote in November 
By Andrew J. Tobias 
August 8, 2023

  • Ohio’s State Issue 1 has failed as voters rejected Republican lawmakers’ attempt to make it harder for the public to propose and approve changes to the state constitution.

  • The abortion issue loomed large over the campaign, including prompting Republican lawmakers to schedule Issue 1 for a vote in the first place. But the pro-Issue 1 campaign generally sidestepped the issue.

  • Both approaches are a tacit acknowledgment that abortion rights are politically popular, and that the abortion-rights amendment is likely to clear 50% in November.

Heartland Signal: Ohio voters reject Issue 1, leaving path open for reproductive rights protection in the future
By Richard Eberwein
August 9, 2023

  • One of Issue 1’s main architects was Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose, who bragged to his constituents about the measure potentially blocking progressive policies like abortion access.

  • The rejection of Issue 1 could have major implications for not only abortion access in Ohio, but also the shape of the 2024 elections. Come November, Ohio will become the  latest state to vote on a measure to protect reproductive rights since the U.S. Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision to remove the right to an abortion.

  • The reversal of Roe v. Wade by the U.S. Supreme Court has seemingly been a benefit to Democrats who saw key wins in the 2022 midterms despite predictions of a wave of Republican victories that never came.
  • Issue 1’s failure also gives LaRose’s U.S. Senate campaign its first major setback.


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