Major Pro-Life Opportunities in Upcoming Governor Races

By Karen Cross

Editor’s note. This appears on  page five of the June digital edition of National Right to Life News which arrived in your email Tuesday morning. Please share stories, and all the other contents, with pro-life family and friends. I’d love to hear from you at daveandrusko@gmail.com.

There will be gubernatorial elections in Virginia and New Jersey in 2021, as well as a special recall election in California.  In addition, there are 20 Republican and 15 Democrat governor seats up for election in 2022. Following are highlights of some of those elections.

Virginia

[Left to right] NRLC Political Director Karen Cross; Pro-life Virginia Gubernatorial Candidate Glenn Youngkin; and Virginia Society for Human Life President Olivia Gans Turner.

The first major midterm election during the Biden-Harris era comes to the Commonwealth of Virginia in November 2021. There will be a pro-life versus pro-abortion showdown in the two major candidates with pro-life Republican businessman Glenn Youngkin taking on pro-abortion former Governor Terry McAuliffe. 

The Cook Political Report has categorized the race as Likely Democrat. However, there are a number of factors that point to a very competitive race.

One is historical trends. Apart from the 2017 gubernatorial race, the party which does not hold the presidency has traditionally won the Virginia governor’s race. That bodes well for Youngkin with pro-abortion President Biden in office. 

While Virginia has been trending blue, midterm elections have been much closer than in presidential years. In the 2014 Senate race, for example, Republican Ed Gillespie came within 0.8% of defeating incumbent Senator Mark Warner. 

In 2013, the last time Terry McAuliffe was on the ballot for governor, pro-life Republican Ken Cuccinelli came within 2 points of winning the race. One of the major reasons he lost was McAuliffe’s huge fundraising advantage.

With that in mind, another factor working in Youngkin’s favor is his ability to self-fund his campaign. As a successful businessman, Youngkin has been able to invest large sums of his personal wealth into the race allowing him to go toe-to-toe with McAuliffe who previously served as DNC Chair and was a top fundraiser for Bill and Hillary Clinton. 

How close is the race less than five months out? A poll from WPA Intelligence put the candidates neck and neck with McAuliffe leading 48% over Youngkin at 46%. (https://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/557851-mcauliffe-youngkin-neck-and-neck-in-virginia-governor-race-poll

Winning in 2021 will require maximum effort from pro-life advocates who understand that “off-year elections” are often interpreted as a referendum on the President. After 4 years of Ralph Northam’s abortion extremism it is time to take the Commonwealth back. 

Arizona

Pro-life Governor Doug Ducey is limited by state law to only two consecutive terms. As a result, Arizona will have an open race for governor in 2022. 

In the 2020 elections, President Biden carried Arizona by one of the narrowest margins in the country: just 10,000 votes–or 0.3%. But in 2018, Governor Ducey won reelection in what was considered a Democratic wave year with 56% of the vote. 

On the Republican side, pro-life State Treasurer Kimberly Yee has announced her candidacy. Prior to her role as treasurer, Yee served as the Majority Leader of the Arizona Senate. She bears the distinction of being the first Asian American ever elected to the Arizona Legislature. 

Karrin Taylor Robson, a member of the Arizona Board of Regents and the president and founder of Arizona Strategies, a land-use strategy company, has also entered the race for the Republican nomination. 

On the Democratic side, pro-abortion Marco Antonio Lopez, the former mayor of Nogales, has thrown his hat in the ring. More candidate announcements on both sides are expected. 

Georgia

Like Arizona, Georgia was one of the closest states of the 2020 election with President Biden narrowly eking out a win. Pro-life Governor Brian Kemp (R) is running for reelection and Republicans are looking to reverse recent trends in the Peach State after also losing two Senate seats to pro-abortion Democrats in the January runoff elections. 

On the Democratic side, pro-abortion former House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams may seek a rematch from her 2018 race against Kemp, a race she has never officially conceded. Another potential candidate is pro-abortion former Atlanta mayor Kasim Reed.  

Pennsylvania

Pro-abortion Governor Tom Wolf (D), a former Planned Parenthood clinic escort, is term-limited, leaving an open race for governor in Pennsylvania. Pro-life former Congressman Lou Barletta has announced his candidacy on the Republican side while former State Treasurer Joe Torsella, Attorney General Josh Shapiro, and Philadelphia mayor Jim Kenney (all pro-abortion) are considered potential candidates for the Democrats. 

President Trump won the Keystone State in 2016 but it flipped back into the Democratic column in 2020. Pro-life Republicans control the Pennsylvania House and Senate but their pro-life efforts have been stymied by Governor Wolf’s veto. Electing a pro-life governor could mean success for pro-life priorities in the state including protections against dismemberment abortion and protections for unborn babies diagnosed with Down syndrome. The race is considered a pure tossup. 

Kansas

Kansas is one of the pro-life movement’s biggest pick-up opportunities in 2022. Pro-abortion Governor Laura Kelly (D) is seeking reelection in a state that voted for President Trump in 2020 by a 15-point margin. Prior to Kelly’s victory, Kansas had been on the cutting edge of passing pro-life initiatives. 

Since taking office, Kelly has been a roadblock to pro-life legislation advanced by the state legislature. She is endorsed by EMILY’s List, a political action committee that seeks to elect Democratic women who support abortion without limits. 

On the Republican side, pro-life former Governor Jeff Colyer, who narrowly lost the GOP nomination in 2018, has declared his candidacy. Kansas Attorney General and former Senate Majority Leader Derek Schmidt and Businessman Chase LaPorte have also announced that they intend to run. All three candidates hold pro-life positions. The race is considered a pure tossup. 

Wisconsin

Pro-abortion Governor Tony Evers (D) is up for reelection in Wisconsin. His extreme position on abortion drove him to veto even the most commonsense legislation such as the bill to protect infants who survive abortions. Defeating Evers is crucial for advancing life-saving measures in Wisconsin once again. 

Potential challengers on the Republican side include former Congressman Sean Duffy, former Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch, former White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, Wisconsin Senate President Chris Kapenga, and more. All are pro-life.

Florida

Pro-life Governor Ron DeSantis (R) is up for reelection in the Sunshine State in 2022. DeSantis has an impressive list of pro-life accomplishments during his first term. Another term would mean even more progress in protecting unborn children and their mothers in Florida. 

There are handful of Democratic candidates already in the race, including former Governor and Congressman Charlie Crist and Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried. Both Crist and Fried support a policy of abortion on demand. As a member of Congress, Crist holds 100% pro-abortion voting record, supporting taxpayer funding of abortion and even voting against legislation to protect unborn babies who can feel pain from late abortions and legislation to safeguard newborn infants who survive failed abortions. The Cook Political Report ranks the race as Leans Republican.

Michigan

Pro-abortion Governor Gretchen Whitmer (D) is up for reelection in Michigan, a state that has been a major political battleground since President Trump’s unexpected win there in 2016. Whitmer has not yet indicated if she will seek a second term, although most political pundits believe she will. She is also backed by EMILY’s List. 

On the Republican side, James Craig, the Chief of the Detroit Police Department, is expected to announce a run against Whitmer. Already announced Republican candidates include businessman Austin Chenge, conservative media personality Tudor Dixon, Allendale Township Planning Commission member Ryan Kelley, Pastor Ralph Rebrandt, Vice President of the Evangelical Alliance Ministerial Association Bob Scott, and businessman Garrett Soldano. 

The large Republican field demonstrates just how vulnerable Whitmer’s position is in the state. Still, the Cook Political Report gives Whitmer an edge, listing the race as Leans Democrat. 

While Biden carried the state in the 2020 election, it remains a top prize for both parties. Michigan is a state to keep an eye on. The governor’s race is winnable in 2022! 

Be sure to pay attention to the gubernatorial race in your state! Having a pro-life governor makes a world of difference to preborn babies, their mamas and to those who are vulnerable!