By Karen Cross, NRL Political Director
Editor’s note. These remarks were part of a Friday General Session at NRLC’s annual convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Part Two will run Friday.
According to Sun Tzu, a general and military strategist from ancient China who wrote “The Art of War,” winning the many smaller battles leads to ultimately winning the war.
And Sun Tzu claimed, “Great results can be achieved with small forces.”
Sun Tzu believed in using three-man teams to get the job done. Most great armies still use his strategy – winning at the smallest element – to get the job done.
So, when you’re at your chapter meeting planning your strategy for winning in 2018, you’re actually practicing a winning strategy developed thousands of years ago.
Sun Tzu also said, “Let your plans be dark and impenetrable as night and when you move, fall like a thunderbolt.”
National Right to Life’s strategy to inform voters in a targeted way just before the election does just that. Again, a winning strategy!
In order to assess our situation, it’s important to look at the lay of the land to determine where our battlegrounds are in 2018.
In 2018, there are 33 U.S. Senate seats up for election: 25 Democrat seats and 8 Republican seats.
Ten of those states have a Democratic incumbent that Donald Trump won: Florida, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
President Trump won five of those ten states by 20 or more percentage points.
Where are the Senate battlegrounds likely to be in 2018?
Let’s look at our best pro-life opportunities to replace current pro-abortion seats.
Florida Senator Bill Nelson has a solid pro-abortion voting record, even voting to allow partial-birth abortions to continue.
This race is currently considered tilt or lean Democrat. Those rankings will likely improve if pro-life Governor Rick Scott, who is term-limited and has won statewide, runs for the seat against Nelson.
Senator Nelson only won with 52% of the vote in 2012.
In Indiana, Senator Joe Donnelly, who claims to be pro-life, has a 33% pro-life voting record. In my book, he’s voting 67% pro-abortion.
Trump won Indiana 57% to 38% and it’s ranked by pundits as a tossup to lean Democrat. It’s a great pickup opportunity.
Michigan’s Senator Debbie Stabenow, an EMILY’s List candidate so she’s extremely pro-abortion, won in 2012 with 55% of the vote. Most of you know EMILY’s List as the pro-abortion PAC that supports women Democrat candidates who support unlimited abortion and taxpayer funding of abortion, a position held by only a small percentage of voters.
Just this week, former Supreme Court Justice Robert Young announced he’s going to run against Stabenow.
Young is pro-life and was supported by Michigan RTL in his three elections to the court. Media reports claim he is quote “popular among conservatives and loathed by Democrats” end quote – for his judicial rulings.
Sometimes you’ve just gotta love candidates who are “loathed”!
In Missouri, pro-abortion Senator Claire McCaskill’s race is ranked tossup to lean Democrat. President Trump won Missouri 57% to 38%.
McCaskill is also an EMILY’s List candidate, and is so pro-abortion she is a cosponsor of S.510 – the “Women’s Health Protection Act” more accurately called the “Abortion without Limits Until Birth Act”.
If enacted, S.510 would nullify virtually all limits on abortion nationwide.
Montana’s pro-abortion Senator Jon Tester has voted pro-abortion on every occasion. His race is considered tilt, lean or likely Democrat, depending on which political pundit I read.
President Trump won Montana by more than 20 points.
In North Dakota, pro-abortion Senator Heidi Heitkamp has a solid pro-abortion voting record, even voting against legislation to protect unborn children from abortion who can feel pain. She narrowly won in 2012 by fewer than 3,000 votes – less than 1% of the votes cast.
President Trump won in North Dakota 64% to 28%. The race is ranked tossup to likely Democrat.
In Ohio, pro-abortion Senator Sherrod Brown has a long history of voting against pro-life legislation. He even voted against the partial-birth abortion ban every chance he had.
President Trump won in Ohio 52% to 44%. The race is ranked lean Democrat.
In Pennsylvania, Senator Bob Casey has a 0% pro-life voting record in the current 115th Congress. Many of you may remember the strong pro-life position his dad took while governor of Pennsylvania.
Senator Casey is not his father.
While he claims to be pro-life, his actions speak louder than his words. He consistently votes to continue government funding for Planned Parenthood, and he is even a cosponsor of S.210, a bill to nullify the pro-life Mexico City Policy.
The race is ranked lean to likely Democrat.
In Virginia, pro-abortion Senator Tim Kaine has a 0% pro-life voting record. While he won in 2012 with only 49% of the vote, it will be a difficult race to win.
As a cosponsor of the “Abortion without Limits Until Birth Act”, his position on life does not reflect Virginia voter values. Currently, the race is ranked likely Democratic.
West Virginia’s Senator Joe Manchin claims to be pro-life, however his voting record in the 115th Congress is a dismal 33%. Manchin consistently votes to allow funding to Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider that performs 900 abortions every single day.
Manchin claims “not one dime of that money goes for abortion”.
We don’t care Senator. Money is fungible. Planned Parenthood receives more than a million dollars a day. They can use that money to build more buildings, hire more staff and do more advertising, then more little girls walk through their doors and she pays for it, or her boyfriend or aunt pays for it.
By voting against defunding Planned Parenthood, Senator Manchin is keeping money from actual health care providers who will offer comprehensive health care for more women, closer to home.
Manchin’s race is considered tossup, lean and likely by different pundits.
President Trump won the state 69% to 27% – that’s 42 points!
In Wisconsin, pro-abortion Senator Tammy Baldwin has a 0% pro-life voting record.
She won in 2012 with 50% of the vote, and Trump won Wisconsin in 2016 with 48%.
An EMILY’s List candidate, Baldwin is a cosponsor of the “Abortion Without Limits Until Birth Act” and has voted against the life issue on every occasion in Congress, even voting to allow partial-birth abortions to continue and to use taxpayer funds to pay for abortion.
This race is considered tilt, lean and likely Democrat by pundits.
As in every battle, we also need to protect ground we have won.
Two Republican senate seats are currently considered vulnerable in 2018.
In Arizona, pro-life Senator Jeff Flake, a freshman, was elected in 2012 with 49.2% of the vote. Trump won the state with 50% of the vote.
Senator Flake has a 100% pro-life voting record scored by National Right to Life. This race is considered “lean Republican” by political pundits.
Nevada’s Senate race is also considered lean Republican.
In 2012, pro-life Senator Dean Heller, who has a 100% pro-life voting record, defeated a pro-abortion EMILY’s List candidate, 46% to 45%.
House of Representatives
So what is the status of the United States House of Representatives?
I recently read that the DCCC is trying to motivate their troops by saying the House is in play next year. Democrats need 24 House seats to take over leadership.
We will talk about the House on Friday.