By Kathy Ostrowski, Legislative Director, Kansans for Life
All eyes turned to “reliably red” Kansas in October for reasons no pro-lifer wanted. Polls indicated the campaigns of both our pro-life U.S. Senator Pat Roberts and our pro-life Governor Sam Brownback were surprisingly struggling.
Already active, pro-lifers brought their far-flung efforts to a whole new level, determined to turn that around. Last night those immense efforts paid off. First, a quick summary.
* Expected to either lose or win by a hair, pro-life stalwart Roberts, in fact, pulled off a sweet and convincing 53%-43% victory over pro-abortion “independent” challenger Greg Orman. Roberts’ re-election was crucial to taking control of the United States Senate out of the hands of pro-abortion Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.)
* Pro-life leader Brownback also surged to a win by a margin of 50%-46% over pro-abortion Democrat State Rep. Paul Davis. The message was clear: Kansans want their administrative branch to stay pro-life.
Kansas pro-lifers were alarmed in early summer at the upstart campaign of Senate challenger Greg Orman– a 45-year-old millionaire businessman without any record of public service and who had never held elected office. Millions of dollars in TV ads were introducing him as the solution to the ‘overriding problem of government gridlock.’ Even a few conservatives were showing some interest in Orman, despite his bizarre claim that he was unsure which party he would caucus with if he won.
But pro-lifers knew differently. They knew that Reid would not allow any pro-life measures passed in the House of Representatives to come to a vote, including the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. Pro-lifers also were well aware of the anti-life provisions of ObamaCare that were protected by Reid. Even more troubling, Orman had no voting record to contrast with the 100% pro-life record of Sen. Roberts.
Kansans for Life’s PAC went into high gear with phone calls, radio spots and other initiatives. We produced and distributed well over one million educational pieces, which is four times the number we have done in the past.
Orman largely hid from the press and kept to the strict script ‘that he had tried both political parties and found both deficient’. His history undermined that claim (as did Vice President Joe Biden at the last minute).
Although Orman had briefly registered as a Republican, he had long been a Democrat, and over 90% of his past and very sizable campaign donations had gone to pro-abortion Democrats. Even Kansas Democrats believed Orman would caucus with Democrats–as shown when they coaxed their own Senate candidate, Chad Taylor, off the ballot on Sept. 3rd so that the field was cleared for Orman.
On Election Day, however, Orman’s pretense at independence was shattered when Vice President Biden, speaking on a radio program, said Democrats “have a chance of picking up an independent who will be with us in the state of Kansas.”
Sen. Roberts has always been endorsed by Kansans for Life and the National Right to Life Committee, and has been a lead supporter of important pro-life bills. Orman described himself as ‘pro-choice’ in an October 15 debate with Sen. Roberts and dismissed pro-life concerns as something to “get past.”
Sen. Roberts quickly rebutted Orman’s position as “unconscionable” and publicly promised “never to stop fighting for life.” Orman continued to act as if pro-life issues were unimportant. For example, he never honored his October 9 pledge to several national media outlets to read and comment on two pro-life bills awaiting passage in the U.S. Senate and supported by Sen. Roberts.
But on Tuesday, Kansans reaffirmed that pro-life issues are important, and re-elected U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts by over a 90,000 vote margin. We so appreciate the help of the NRLC-PAC in producing radio and print materials for this race.
After years of battling an administration that supported abortion and was pushing destructive embryonic research, Kansas pro-lifers were thrilled to turn that around with the election of Sam Brownback as governor in 2010. During his first term, he signed thirteen pro-life measures, including nationally-important bills, championed by NRLC.
The contrast could not have been more clear. Challenger Davis was part of the cadre of anti-life legislators fighting every one of those bills. In fact, during his tenure in the House from 2003-2014, Davis voted 80 times against pro-life bills!
It may not be well known that Kansas has long had three political players: pro-life GOPers, a dwindling number of pro-abortion GOPers, and Democrats, who are now 95% pro-abortion. Bitter, pro-abortion GOP legislators who had fought the Brownback initiatives and lost their elections in 2012, added their support for Davis.
Going into the elections, the race was too close to call and early returns showing a slight lead for Davis had pro-lifers holding their breath. Those returns reflected that:
* counties from Kansas’ eastern edge bordering Missouri (which came in early) traditionally lean Democrat, and
* the bitter pro-abortion GOP wing seemed to be voting a straight GOP ticket except for Brownback and, to a lesser extent, Roberts.
But, as returns continued, Gov. Brownback finished ahead of Davis by about 33,000 votes. Another 33,000 votes went to a third party independent candidate, Keen Umbehr.
What you won’t see highlighted is that Brownback prevailed even in liberal-leaning Johnson County, the home of two abortion clinics, and serviced by the Kansas City Star whose editorial board supports abortion and never overlooks a chance to slam Brownback.
We congratulate our many pro-life volunteers who helped insure another four years under Gov. Brownback! Social media has certainly impacted election politics, but in Kansas, the tried and true pro-life ground game was richly rewarded yesterday.