But those Republican members, who managed to win blue states like New York and California in 2022, say they’re ready for this line of attack in 2024. They claim it’s proof that its potency is overrated.
“They tried it in 2022 and my opponent spent $3.1 million trying to paint me like that when I don’t. I believe in exceptions for rape, incest, mother’s life. And I am not opposed to first trimester abortion, » said Rep. Nick LaLotaa Republican from Long Island, NY « We won by 11 points, so if they want to turn that money back on in 2024, that’s their decision. »
LaLota calls abortion a « hot » issue, but says she’s leading with a « common sense » approach. Many other New York Republicans aim to chart the same path.
Republican Republics Marco Molinaro AND Antonio D’Esposito, both from New York, told POLITICO they weren’t concerned about failing to represent the will of voters in their districts when it comes to abortion policy and said they would not interfere with state laws on the matter. New York has one of the most liberal abortion access policies in the country.
These targeted GOP members are also finding support from other moderates in Congress when it comes to voting on abortion legislation. In a recent closed-door meeting, Speaker of the Chamber Kevin McCarthy briefed members on an upcoming vote to tighten limits on tax-funded abortion, similar to the Hyde Amendment. Then chaos broke out Rep. Nancy Mace (RS.C.) asked, « Why the hell are we doing this? »
The bill has yet to be discussed.
In a brief interview, Mace said she wasn’t sure why the bill wasn’t voted on, but that there were « some internal concerns » about part of it that would potentially impact Affordable Care. Act, and therefore on private insurance plans. The bill would never pass the Democrat-controlled Senate. But even consideration of her, some feared, could be used to attack Republicans.
« I think there were just some concerns from people in swing districts, that’s my reading, » Mace said. “I don’t know if it will be addressed, if they will change or amend that part of the bill. I don’t know yet.
Democrats are preparing to display this vote (if, indeed, it makes it to the floor) along with aa vote earlier this year on another abortion-related bill in the election campaign.
« Republicans in vulnerable districts may try to falsely portray themselves as moderates or distance themselves from the extreme of their party, » said the chairman of the congressional Democratic campaign committee Susan Del Bene (D-wash.). « We will make sure to disqualify every single Republican in these states for their positions on abortion. »
The sensitive approach to abortion policy by vulnerable House Republicans could be overshadowed in 2024 by the more vocal calls from GOP presidential candidates and their conservative colleagues backing a nationwide ban. While former President Donald Trump has kept the policy vague, virtually every other major GOP candidate has adopted a variation of it. Democrats are planning not to let them off the hook.
“Working collectively, DCCC, DNC, DSCC [will] continue to make sure that the American people understand what is at stake in this election and how extreme the Republicans are. And so we’re going to do that by whatever means are necessary to make sure they see this information and they see these people,” DNC Chairman Jaime Harrison said, noting that there are already billboards and soon digital announcements on this matter in battleground states.
The DCCC has three new abortion-specific digital ads running against all 31 Republicans targeted this cycle with more campaign messages to follow this cycle. And President Joe Biden’s re-election campaign is also expected to campaign aggressively on abortion access, according to campaign manager Julie Chávez Rodríguez.
But Republicans are betting that going all-in on abortion might not be the elixir Democrats think it is. They suggest it could even backfire.
« Where [the advertising is] hysterical, exaggerated, or clearly not credible, voters don’t buy it,” cautioned a GOP strategist, who has been granted anonymity to candidly discuss 2024 election dynamics.
« There’s no question in many races last cycle where candidates were on camera saying ‘I’m against abortion without expectations’ that it was a real liability, » the strategist said. “Alternatively, when Democrats tried to argue because of their connection to National Republicans, candidate X would automatically be anti-abortion with no exceptions and that wasn’t true, it didn’t work. The candidates were able to dispel it easily.
The last Democratic frontliner in New York, Rep. Pat Ryan, sees it differently. She argues New York voters believe abortion access in the solidly blue state is at risk as there is talk of a nationwide ban.
He won his special election and re-election, both in 2022, largely due to his unapologetic support for abortion access. While districts have rocked for the GOP around Ryan’s Hudson Valley turf, he hasn’t succumbed to her messages on abortion and believes Democratic challengers in New York should do the same next year.
“We have to help the American people understand. This is a stark and clear choice: either you are for freedom or you are not. And that’s all about reproductive freedom but many other freedoms that are under threat,” Ryan said. “Actions speak louder than words. People sent us here to fight for these freedoms or to go home, in my opinion. »