All-out Pro-Life Efforts Overcame Abortion Rhetoric & Deep Pockets in 2014 Elections

 

By Karen Cross, National Right to Life Political Director

Editor’s note. This is an updated version of the story that appeared on page one of the December issue of National Right to Life News. The entire 35-page issue can be read at www.nrlc.org/uploads/NRLNews/NRLNewsDec2014.pdf.

Dr. David O’Steen, NRL executive director and Senator-elect Joni Ernst (Iowa)

Dr. David O’Steen, NRL executive director and Senator-elect Joni Ernst (Iowa)

2014. What. A. Year. And you made a difference!

While many in the media were in denial, months ago we saw a wave of pro-life successes coming. The first indication was the March 11 special election in Florida. National Right to Life-endorsed David Jolly defeated pro-abortion EMILY’s List candidate Alex Sink – despite her vast name-recognition and financial advantage. It truly was a “bellwether” contest – a forecast of what was to come in the November congressional elections. And the results appear to have had far-reaching coattails down-ballot as well, with many state houses flipping to pro-life leadership across the country – even in places like Maine, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, and New York, where Obama won comfortably in 2008 and 2012.

What role did National Right to Life and its political entities, the National Right to Life Political Action Committee and the National Right to Life Victory Fund, play in the 2014 elections?

NRL President Carol Tobias with Senator Mitch McConnell (Kentucky)

NRL President Carol Tobias with Senator Mitch McConnell (Kentucky)

National Right to Life endorsed 287 federal candidates. A whopping 90% won their elections. (The race in Arizona’s second congressional district between NRL-endorsed fighter pilot Martha McSally and pro-abortion Rep. Ron Barber should be decided by next week after a recount. McSally is ahead of Barber by 161 votes.)

We were actively focused on 74 of the most competitive federal races: 18 for seats in the U.S. Senate, and 56 for seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. Of the 73 races that have been decided, National Right to Life-supported candidates won 75% of their elections.

What about the abortion lobby? National Right to Life was involved in 26 head-to-head races against the major pro-abortion PAC, EMILY’s List. Of those, 19 (73%) of the NRL-endorsed candidates won their elections, despite a substantial financial disparity.

EMILY’s List boasts that it has finally surpassed the $400 million fundraising mark for their candidates (since its founding in 1985). More than a third of that was raised since 2010. Mind-boggling.

The U.S. Senate

Dr. David N. O’Steen, NRL executive director, with Senator-elect Thom Tillis of North Carolina.

Dr. David N. O’Steen, NRL executive director, with Senator-elect Thom Tillis of North Carolina.

Against tremendous odds, National Right to Life won five of six Senate contests against EMILY’s List – 83%.

In June, EMILY’s List announced its plan to spend $3 million statewide in North Carolina supporting pro-abortion Senator Kay Hagan’s re-election and opposing Hagan’s challenger, pro-life Speaker of the House Thom Tillis.

The political arm of Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider, also pledged to spend $3 million dollars in North Carolina. Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, referred to the North Carolina U.S. Senate race as nothing less than “the most important race in the country.”

Meanwhile, National Right to Life, its political entities, and its state affiliates, were working hard to expose the extreme pro-abortion positions of the candidates supported by EMILY’s List and Planned Parenthood.

National Right to Life and its political entities spent more in the North Carolina Senate race than any other race since its inception.

National Right to Life contacted more than 795,000 identified pro-life households, hand-distributed an additional 300,000 pieces of literature, called nearly 300,000 pro-life households, and aired 5,647 radio ads on 187 stations statewide, including ads on Spanish-language radio stations. The extra effort in North Carolina paid off.

NRL-endorsed Thom Tillis defeated EMILY’s List’s Kay Hagan 48.82-47.26%, or approximately 45,000 votes out of nearly 3 million cast.

In Colorado, pro-life Rep. Cory Gardner challenged NARAL Pro-Choice America-supported Senator Mark Udall.

The rhetoric coming from the Udall campaign was so far beyond reality that a reporter from the pro-abortion Denver Post referred to Senator Udall as Mark “Uterus.”

Denver’s Fox 31 wrote:

“It’s hard to pinpoint the exact moment the Democrats’ battle-tested ‘War on Women’ strategy morphed from political genius into farce, but a last-minute TV ad released Wednesday by NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado that suggests Cory Gardner’s election would lead to a condom shortage is yet another example of how the Democratic messaging has seemingly jumped the shark.”

Meanwhile, National Right to Life exposed the stark differences between the candidates on life issues, including candidates’ positions on the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, the use of tax dollars to pay for abortion, and the pro-abortion, pro-rationing Obamacare law. For instance, Sen. Udall, after 80 votes in Congress, has never once voted pro-life – not even to ban partial-birth abortions.

Gardner narrowly defeated Udall, 48.21-46.26%, some 40,000 votes out of more than 2 million votes cast.

More Senate pro-abortion incumbents lost their elections. For example Alaska Senator Mark Begich lost to pro-life NRL-endorsed Dan Sullivan, 45.83-47.96% (6,014 votes out of nearly 300,000 cast). In Arkansas, Senator Mark Pryor, who voted against pro-life interests on 26 separate occasions, lost to NRL-endorsed Rep. Tom Cotton, who has a 100% record scored by National Right to Life. The margin of victory: 56.5-39.5%.

Senator-elect Dan Sullivan (Alaska) and Karen Cross, NRL Political Director

Senator-elect Dan Sullivan (Alaska) and Karen Cross, NRL Political Director

In open seats, NRL-endorsed businessman David Perdue defeated pro-abortion Michelle Nunn in Georgia, NRL-endorsed Rep. Steve Daines easily defeated pro-abortion state Rep. Amanda Curtis in Montana, NRL-endorsed Rep. Shelley Moore Capito soundly defeated pro-abortion Secretary of State Natalie Tennant, and NRL-endorsed state Sen. Joni Ernst defeated pro-abortion Rep. Bruce Braley, a co-sponsor of H.R. 3471, a bill that, if enacted, would invalidate nearly all state and federal limits on abortion.

Pro-life incumbent senators were able to stave off pro-abortion challengers.

And finally, in Louisiana’s runoff on December 6, when NRL-endorsed Rep. Bill Cassidy, who has a 100% pro-life voting record in Congress, defeated Sen. Mary Landrieu, who voted against National Right to Life’s pro-life position on every scored vote during her current six-year Senate term, the net gain in the U.S. Senate is nine pro-life votes.

The U.S. House of Representatives

National Right to Life was head-to-head against 20 of the pro-abortion EMILY’s List candidates who were running for the U.S. House of Representatives. NRL-endorsed candidates won 14 of those 20 races (70%).

Following is a synopsis of some of the races in which the NRL-endorsed candidates were in competitive races with candidates supported by EMILY’s List.

  • California 21: Pro-life Rep. David Valadao defeated pro-abortion Amanda Renteria in a district which went 55% for Barack Obama in 2012
  • Illinois 13: Pro-life Rep. Rodney Davis defeated pro-abortion Judge Ann Callis in a district which went 49% for Barack Obama in 2012
  • Iowa 3: Pro-life David Young defeated pro-abortion state Senator Staci Appel, a district which went 51% for Barack Obama in 2012
  • Maine 2: Pro-life Bruce Poliquin defeated pro-abortion Emily Cain in a district which went 53% for Barack Obama in 2012
  • Nevada 3: Pro-life Rep. Joe Heck defeated pro-abortion community organizer Erin Bilbray in a district which went 50% for Barack Obama in 2012
  • New Hampshire 1: Pro-life former Rep. Frank Guinta defeated pro-abortion Rep. Carol Shea-Porter in a district which went 50% for Barack Obama in 2012
  • New Jersey 3: Pro-life Thomas MacArthur defeated pro-abortion New Jersey Freeholder Aimee Belgard, a district which went 51% for Barack Obama in 2012
  • New York 23: Pro-life Rep. Tom Reed defeated pro-abortion Martha Robertson in a district which went 48% for Barack Obama in 2012
  • Virginia 2: Pro-life Rep. Scott Rigell defeated pro-abortion Suzanne Patrick in a district which went 50% for Barack Obama in 2012
  • Wisconsin 7: Pro-life Rep. Sean Duffy defeated pro-abortion challenger Kelly Westlund in a district which went 48% for Barack Obama in 2012

Governors’ Races

Two of the highly publicized governors’ races were NRL-endorsed candidates versus pro-abortion EMILY’s List candidates.

In Texas, pro-life Attorney General Greg Abbott soundly defeated pro-abortion state Senator Wendy Davis with 59% of the votes cast. The national news media had raised Davis to celebrity status for her 13-hour filibuster attempt to kill protective pro-life legislation.

In Wisconsin, against tremendous odds, pro-life Governor Scott Walker was victorious against pro-abortion challenger Mary Burke, winning 52% of the vote against her 46%. In 2012, 53% voted for Barack Obama in Wisconsin.

And the abortion issue was—media denials notwithstanding—important. Twenty-three percent of voters across the nation said that the abortion issue affected their vote and voted for candidates who oppose abortion. Just 16% said abortion affected their vote and voted for candidates who favor abortion. This 7% net gain for pro-life candidates made the difference in many races, and those pro-life successes of November 4, 2014, mean that pro-life leadership will preside over both houses in Congress in 2015, when the 114th Congress convenes.

Next up: November 8, 2016. Hold the Senate, hold the House, and take the White House – for life.

Look for election updates in future National Right to Life News and National Right to Life News Today.