2016 Congressional Elections are in Full Swing

By Karen Cross, National Right to Life Political Director

YourVoteMattersreThe congressional election season is in full swing. Congressional primary elections began March 1, and will run through September 16, except in Louisiana, which holds its primary on November 8. So far, congressional primaries have been held in 27 states. In addition, on June 7, there was a special general election to determine the successor to Speaker of the House John Boehner, following his resignation.

On June 14, Maine, Nevada, North Dakota, South Carolina, and Virginia held their congressional primaries. There will be four more on June 28–Colorado, New York, Oklahoma, and Utah.

Following are highlights of some of those races, including those that took place earlier this week.


As expected, pro-life Congressman Joe Heck (R) and pro-abortion former Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto (D) were nominated to run for the seat of retiring Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid. Cortez Masto is supported by the pro-abortion group EMILY’s List. The race is considered a tossup by political pundits.

Pro-life businessman Danny Tarkanian (R) and pro-abortion Jacky Rosen (D) will square off in Heck’s 3rd congressional district. Rosen is also supported by EMILY’s List. This race is considered a tossup by political pundits.

In the 4th congressional district, pro-abortion state Sen. Ruben Kihuen (D) won the Democrat nomination and is challenging pro-life Congressman Cresent Hardy (R). This race is considered lean Democratic by political pundits.


Pro-life Congressman Randy Forbes (R) switched from the 4th to the 2nd after redistricting. He lost his primary bid to pro-life state Del. Scott Taylor (R), a Navy Seal and Iraq war vet. Taylor will run against pro-abortion Shaun “Kool Beans” Brown (D) in November.

In the 5th district, pro-life state Senator Tom Garrett (R) will face Albemarle County Supervisor Jane Dittmar (D), whose position on abortion is unknown.

In the 10th congressional district, pro-life Congresswoman Barbara Comstock (R) is facing a challenge from pro-abortion EMILY’s List candidate LuAnn Bennett (D). The race is considered lean Republican.


Pro-life attorney Colm Willis (R) won the Republican nomination and is challenging pro-abortion incumbent Rep. Kurt Schrader (D) in Oregon’s 5th congressional district.

North Carolina

As a result of a federal lawsuit, congressional district lines were redrawn in North Carolina. This pitted pro-life Congressman George Holding (R) against Congresswoman Renee Ellmers (R), a pro-life traitor. National Right to Life endorsed Congressman Holding and its political committees were active in the race, reaching out to pro-life households by mail, phone, and social media.

Holding has never wavered in his pro-life support, while Ellmers launched an extensive public campaign against the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, delaying the vote in the House for months. Rep. Holding won the Republican nomination and will face John McNeill (D) in November. The seat is considered safe Republican.


Pro-life Congressman Ryan Zinke (R) is facing a challenge by Denise Juneau (D), a pro-abortion EMILY’s List candidate. The race is considered likely Republican.


California has a “top two” primary system, meaning the two candidates that garner the most votes advance to the general election ballot, regardless of party. There are a number of competitive races following the June 7 primary. Notably, in the 31st congressional district, Paul Chabot (R), who nearly defeated pro-abortion Rep. Pete Aquilar (D) in 2014, and in the 9th, pro-life Tony Amador (R), who nearly defeated pro-abortion Rep. Jerry McNerney (D) in 2014, won general election ballot slots.

Pro-life state Senator Jeff Stone (R) is challenging pro-abortion Rep. Raul Ruiz in the 36th. Pro-life businesswoman Denise Gitsham (R) is challenging pro-abortion Rep. Scott Peters (D) in the 52nd. The race is considered likely Democrat.


Pro-life freshman Congressman Rod Blum (R) is facing a challenge by pro-abortion Monica Vernon (D), a Cedar Rapids City Councilwoman who is endorsed by EMILY’s List. The race considered lean Democrat.

In the 3rd, pro-life Congressman David Young (R), another freshman, faces Jim Mowrer (D), who is pro-abortion. The race is considered a Republican tossup.

Ohio 8 Special General

On June 9, pro-life Congressman Warren Davidson (R) was sworn in after winning the special general election to determine the successor to Speaker Boehner, who resigned on October 31, 2015. Davidson is facing Corey Foister (D) in the November general election. The seat is considered safe Republican.

Upcoming Races to Watch

Following are highlights from some of the upcoming June primaries.


Coloradans will determine their Republican nominee for U.S. Senate, who will then go on to challenge pro-abortion Senator Michael Bennet (D) in November. That race is considered lean Democrat.

New York

There are a number of open seats in New York, including pro-abortion Rep. Steve Israel’s 3rd district open seat. It’s considered a Democratic tossup. Republican open seats in the 19th and 22nd districts (Chris Gibson and Richard Hanna, respectively) are considered tossups.

Poorly Informed or Exterior Political Motives?

This year, many committed pro-life House members, who have 100% voting scores from National Right to Life, are being inaccurately, unfairly described as “not pro-life enough” by some critics, who in some cases may merely be poorly informed and in other cases may have exterior political motives.

These critics are using votes in favor of the Omnibus Appropriations bill (H.R. 2029) as evidence. In fact, National Right to Life took no position on H.R. 2029, which passed the House of Representatives on December 18, 2015, by a vote of 316-113.

“No House member did anything contrary to pro-life interests by voting in favor of the omnibus appropriations bill on December 18, 2015,” said Carol Tobias, president of National Right to Life. “The bill preserved existing pro-life laws such as the Hyde Amendment, and contrary to some claims, it contained no earmark, line item, or specific appropriation for Planned Parenthood.”

“We need a new law to prevent Planned Parenthood from tapping into federal health programs such as Medicaid – but that effort was best advanced by approval of a separate bill, the budget reconciliation bill (H.R. 3762), which was immune from a pro-abortion filibuster,” Tobias continued.

A Reminder to Pro-life Voters

As you support your preferred primary candidate, it is important that you don’t bash other pro-life candidates. It weakens support for the candidate who eventually wins and undermines the very goal of saving countless lives.

And, if “your” candidate does not win the primary, it is crucial that you stay engaged.

Bottom line: when pro-life voters don’t vote, babies die.

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