Westword interview offers illuminating national perspective on abortion issues in state elections

In a Westword interview published today, NARAL President Ilyse Hogue says Virginia’s November gubernatorial race is “something of a test case” to find out if the anti-choice positions of a candidate prove to be his downfall, just as abortion issues tipped the electoral scales against 2010 Republican Senate candidate Ken Buck here in Colorado.

Westword’s Michael Roberts reports:

The Virginia governor’s race between abortion opponent Ken Cuccinelli and pro-choice hopeful Terry McAuliffe, which will come to a head in November 2013, a year before most of the other contests, is something of a test case, Hogue believes. Moreover, the strategy NARAL is employing there is the same one that helped elect Senator Bennet in Colorado — highlighting the anti-abortion positions of an opponent (in Bennet’s case, Ken Buck) whether or not they make them central to their campaign.

“Senator Bennet and politicians like him recognize that when the extreme positions of opponents are exposed and candidates are forced to speak to them and defend them in the public square, they lose,” Hogue maintains. “You hear politicians say, ‘I don’t want to talk about this. It’s a social issue, and people only want to hear about jobs and the economy.’ But that’s fundamentally untrue. Women’s economic livelihood is tied up with their ability to take charge of their family planning. That’s the real way Americans understand reproductive health and reproductive choice, and the extremists are very out of step with the common family experience in this country. We applaud Michael Bennet for his willingness to expose the extreme agenda of his opponent, and we think it’s a winning strategy we’d like to see replicated around the country.


“In Virginia, we’re seeing indications that voters who are otherwise on the fence or identify themselves as independents are being driven to not only go to the polls but vote for the pro-choice candidate when they see the extreme positions of the opponents extreme positions on choice — and Senator Bennet’s campaign provided great modeling on that,” she continues. “The protection of women to make personal decisions with their families and their doctors has not traditionally been a partisan issue. In Colorado, the laws were passed under a Republican governor [John Love, who signed a bill allowing abortion in the state circa 1967]. So, in these hyper-partisan times, we’re looking for states like Colorado to exemplify the fact that this is a family issue, not a Democratic or Republican issue, and that we expect our leaders to act accordingly.”

If you’ve been amazed at the starring role abortion issues have played on the political stage here is Colorado recently, you’ll enjoy the national perspective on the topic provided in Roberts’ piece today.

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