Democrats declare that there will not be a litmus test for their party candidates who oppose abortion rights. The chairman of the Democratic Party, Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), said that they will not withhold financial support and are seeking to find ways to develop a winning roster so that they can regain the House majority in 2018. The Congressman’s comments came while giving an interview to TheHill.
“There is not a litmus test for Democratic candidates,” said Luján, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chairman. “As we look at candidates across the country, you need to make sure you have candidates that fit the district, that can win in these districts across America.”
The position DCCC is taking is in contrast to what the DNC chair Tom Perez said in April:
“Every Democrat, like every American, should support a woman’s right to make her own choices about her body and her health,” Perez said in a statement. “That is not negotiable and should not change city by city or state by state.”
Perez’s comments did draw criticism from even Nancy Pelosi who said:
When asked if a Democratic politician could be pro-life, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi was unequivocal.
“Of course,” Pelosi told NBC’s “Meet The Press.” “I have served many years in Congress with members who have not shared my very positive – my family would say aggressive – position on promoting a woman’s right to choose.”
Some are warning by taking this position; the party is risking alienating liberals as well as groups that are committed to promoting access to abortion and reproductive health services. These values have represented the core of the party’s base.
“Throwing weight behind anti-choice candidates is bad politics that will lead to worse policy,” said Mitchell Stille, who oversees campaigns for NARAL Pro-Choice America. “The idea that jettisoning this issue wins elections for Democrats is folly contradicted by all available data.”
The Democratic Party is now casting a wide net for candidates. Luján, the party chair, clearly states the objective, “To pick up 24 [seats] and get to 218, that is the job. We’ll need a broad coalition to get that done. We are going to need all of that; we have to be a big family in order to win the House back.”
This goes along with what House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) have both argued in the past. They have stood against party litmus tests, saying that there is room for people with different opinions on abortion. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), another influential voice, has echoed that argument.
This mindset harkens back to the 2006 mid-term elections. Democrats won control of the House by recruiting and supporting financially a significant number of Democrats who did not entirely support abortion rights, including former Reps. Brad Ellsworth (Ind.), Baron Hill (Ind.), Heath Shuler (N.C.) and Jason Altmire (Pa.).
“Both [then-DCCC Chairman] Rahm Emanuel and [then-Democratic National Committee Chairman] Howard Dean with his 50 state strategy understood that in order to win districts that had eluded Democrats in previous cycles, they were going to have to field candidates who didn’t look like national Democrats,” Jason Altmire said. “People understood the class of ’06 was driven largely by the centrist candidates.”
Abortion rights were noticeably absent from the Democratic Party’s new policy called “A Better Deal.” It focused on economic policy related to jobs, wages and reducing the burden on families. Democrats are feeling some wind at their backs as they prepare for the 2018 elections. More than 200 Democratic candidates running for Republican-held seats have reportedly raised more than $5,000 for their campaigns. And they believe a wide net that focuses primarily on financial concerns is the way to victory.
Do you think they are on the right track? Do you agree that there should not be a litmus test for candidates that included opposing abortion rights?
Credit: The Hill