By Karen Cross, National Right to Life Political Director
I’m breaking through all the noise surrounding the presidential election to share updates on the developing congressional elections. Whatever happens in the presidential race, the struggle for majority control of the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives will have sweeping implications for the future of the pro-life movement.
Both houses of Congress are currently under majority Republican control, and pro-life leadership. The loss of the pro-life Republican majorities would be devastating to life issues.
The Senate elections will be tough. Twenty-four Republican seats are up compared to only 10 Democrat seats. Democrats only need a net gain of five, or a net gain of four if they win the White House (in which case the Vice President would cast tie-breaker votes), to have a majority in the Senate.
Overall, Democrats need a net gain of 30 seats to take pro-abortion control of the U.S. House of Representatives.
Congressional primaries in Pennsylvania and Maryland on April 26 set up some critical pro-life vs. pro-abortion contests for the November 8 general election.
Pro-life Republican Senator Pat Toomey will face a challenge by pro-abortion former state environmental secretary Katie McGinty, an EMILY’s List candidate. EMILY’s List is a pro-abortion group organized to elect Democrat women who support abortion on demand and taxpayer funding for abortion.
Senator Toomey has a 100% pro-life voting record in the Senate. In 2015 alone, Toomey voted to protect from abortion unborn children who are capable of experiencing great pain when being killed by dismemberment or other late abortion methods. He voted to block federal funding to Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider.
Pennsylvania’s Senate race is considered a pure tossup by political pundits.
In Pennsylvania’s 8th congressional district seat, Brian Fitzpatrick soundly triumphed in the Republican primary. EMILY’s List candidate Shaughnessy Naughton lost to pro-abortion state Rep. Steve Santarsiero for the Democrat nomination.
Fitzpatrick and Santarsiero will compete on November 8 for the open seat due to pro-life Republican Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick’s retirement.
National Right to Life-endorsed Republican Congressman Bill Shuster fended off a primary challenge in the 9th congressional district. Shuster is unopposed in the general election.
The general election matchup in the 12th congressional district will be between pro-life Republican Congressman Keith Rothfus and pro-abortion Democrat candidate Erin McClelland.
Pro-life Congressman Joe Pitts’ retirement has left the 16th district with an open seat. The nominees will be pro-life Republican state Sen. Lloyd Smucker and pro-abortion Democrat Christina Hartman.
In the Maryland primary, more than two dozen candidates competed for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by retiring pro-abortion Democrat Sen. Barbara Milkulski.
Pro-abortion Rep. Chris Van Hollen won the Democratic nomination in a bitterly divisive primary, defeating pro-abortion Rep. Donna Edwards, who had strong support from EMILY’s List. Pro-life state Sen. Kathy Szeliga won the Republican nomination in a crowded field.
Currently, Maryland’s Senate race is considered “safe Democrat” by political pundits, although Maryland voters surprised the nation by electing Republican Governor Larry Hogan in 2014.
There are still 42 more congressional primary elections, including Indiana’s May 3 primary. Republican Senator Dan Coats is retiring. Two pro-life House members are vying for the Republican nomination: Congressman Todd Young and Congressman Marlin Stutzman. The winner of the Republican primary will take on former Congressman Baron Hill (D).
Indiana’s Senate race is considered “likely Republican” by political pundits.
Nominees for Young’s and Stutzman’s House seats will be determined May 3.
Stay tuned. There will be more to come. It’s turning out to be an interesting election cycle, to say the least.
Look for updates in future National Right to Life News and National Right to Life News Today.