By Karen Cross, Political Action Director
On Tuesday, voters in seven states, California, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, and South Dakota cast their ballots in primary elections. Here’s a recap of the key races and what the results mean for the pro-life movement heading into the critical November midterm elections:
Pro-life Republican incumbents Mike Garcia (CA-27), Young Kim (CA-40), and Michelle Steel (CA-45), all three of whom are endorsed by National Right to Life, will advance to the general election in November. Each of these races is expected to be highly competitive. Mike Garcia and Michelle Steel begin the cycle at a slight disadvantage due to redistricting. Both must contend with new district boundaries in which Democrats outnumber Republicans. Young Kim has a marginally more favorable district for Republicans but only by a few points. However, the pro-life Republican with the steepest hill to climb is Congressman David Valadao (CA-22), who will face off against pro-abortion Democratic Assemblyman Rudy Salas in a newly drawn district where Democrats have a +10 advantage over Republicans in voter registration.
Pro-life House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy will advance to the general election in the 20th District. The race is not expected to be competitive. It is possible, if Republicans are successful in seizing the House majority in 2022, that McCarthy could become Speaker of the House for the 118th Congress.
There are opportunities for Republican pick-ups in several California districts. Pro-abortion Democrat Congresswoman Katie Porter (CA-47) will face Republican Assemblyman Scott Baugh in a district where Democrats have only a +6 advantage. That’s very possible in the current political climate.
Even in California, whose reputation is often tainted by its abortion fanatics like Kamala Harris, Gavin Newsom, and Nancy Pelosi, there are large swaths of voters who are uncomfortable with the Democrat agenda of taxpayer-funded abortion on demand for any reason.
Pro-life Senator Chuck Grassley, who is endorsed by National Right to Life, prevailed in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate. He will face pro-abortion Democrat Michael Franken, a former Navy admiral.
Pro-life Governor Kim Reynolds won her primary as she seeks another term. Governor Reynolds, who is a champion for life and is responsible for signing multiple pro-life bills into law, is endorsed by National Right to Life.
Pro-life House incumbents Mariannette Miller-Meeks (IA-01), Ashley Hinson (IA-02), and Randy Feenstra (IA-04) won the Republican nomination for their respective seats. Each holds a 100% pro-life voting record with National Right to Life.
Iowa’s lone incumbent Democrat, pro-abortion Congresswoman Cindy Axne (IA-03), will face pro-life Republican state senator and combat veteran Zach Nunn in November. The race is expected to be highly competitive as Democrats fight to protect their last foothold in the state.
Noting Nunn’s strength as a challenger, the Cook Political Report shifted the race’s rating from Tossup to Leans Republican once he secured the Republican nomination. Rep. Axne is endorsed by EMILY’s List, a DC-based fundraising behemoth that funds pro-abortion Democrat women who are unflinchingly committed to a policy of abortion on demand. Accordingly, Axne supports a policy of abortion on demand for any reason, and she would use tax dollars to pay for it. She voted for the so-called Women’s Health Protection Act, a bill which really should be called the “Abortion Without Limits Until Birth Act” because it would enshrine abortion in federal law and policies and tear down pro-life protections on the state level. Cindy Axne is drastically out of touch with Iowa voters.
Pro-life Congressman Trent Kelly in the 1st District secured the Republican nomination as he seeks another term. Facing formidable challengers, pro-life Republican incumbents Michael Guest (MS-03), and Steven Palazzo (MS-04) will advance to runoff elections. Even if a challenger should prevail in the runoffs, both seats are expected to remain in Republican hands in November. Pro-abortion Democrat Bennie Thompson (MS-02) defeated his primary challenger and is favored to win re-election in November given the strong Democrat bent of the 2nd District.
Montana added a new Congressional District as a result of population growth in the 2020 Census. At this time, the Republican primary for Montana’s 1st District remains undecided. Pro-life former Interior Secretary and Congressman Ryan Zinke is currently leading in the vote count as he eyes a return to the House. Trailing Zinke by a small margin is Dr. Al Olszewski, a pro-life former state lawmaker and orthopedic surgeon. In Montana’s 2nd District, pro-life incumbent Congressman Matt Rosendale secured the Republican nomination.
Pro-life champion Congressman Chris Smith (NJ-04) fended off two primary challengers in the 4th District. Smith, who serves as the chair of the House Pro-Life Caucus, is endorsed by National Right to Life. The pro-life movement would not be where it is today without the effective leadership and heartfelt devotion that Congressman Chris Smith demonstrates to the cause of protecting innocent human life at every stage.
In the pro-life movement, we welcome converts! Congressman Jeff Van Drew (NJ-02), a former pro-abortion Democrat who switched his party affiliation to Republican in 2020, has maintained a 100% pro-life voting record in the 117th Congress. Among his pro-life votes, Van Drew voted to preserve the Hyde Amendment, and he voted against the so-called Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA). (The WHPA should really be called the “Abortion Without Limits Until Birth Act” because it would enshrine abortion in federal law and policies and tear down pro-life protections on the state level.) Van Drew won the Republican primary in the 2nd District and will face pro-abortion Democrat Tim Alexander in the general election.
In the 5th District, Republican voters selected pro-life investment banker Frank Pallotta to take on pro-abortion incumbent Congressman Josh Gottheimer in November. Gottheimer holds an abysmal 0% rating from National Right to Life.
Pro-abortion Democrat Congressman Tom Malinowski is vulnerable in 2022. After redistricting, the 7th District now has a +3 Republican partisan lean, giving the Republican nominee an edge. That candidate will be Tom Kean, Jr., the son of former New Jersey Governor Tom Kean, Sr.
Mark Ronchetti, a pro-life former meteorologist and 2020 Senate candidate, became the Republican nominee for governor of New Mexico. Ronchetti will attempt to unseat pro-abortion Democrat incumbent Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham. The contrast between the candidates could not be starker. While Ronchetti supports protections for unborn children and their mothers, Lujan Grisham supports a policy of abortion on demand, and she would use tax dollars to pay for abortions.
Pro-life incumbent Congresswoman Yvette Herrell, who was unopposed in the Republican primary for the 2nd Congressional District seat, will face pro-abortion Democrat Gabriel Vasquez in the general election. Herrell made history in 2020 when she became the first Cherokee woman ever elected to Congress. Due to redistricting, Congresswoman Herrell faces a more Democratic electorate than in 2020 when she was first elected. In the new district lines, there is a +4 Democratic partisan lean. Herrell is endorsed by National Right to Life.
In New Mexico’s 3rd District, pro-abortion Congresswoman Teresa Leger Fernandez won the Democratic primary but her path to re-election will not be as easy. She will face pro-life Republican Alexis Martinez Johnson. On the state’s new map, the 3rd district gives Democrats just a +5 advantage in voter registration. That may not be enough of a buffer if the political winds continue to blow as they currently are. Fernandez is also in the difficult position of having to defend her wildly out-of-touch voting record on abortion. She supports a policy of abortion on demand for any reason, and she would use tax dollars to pay for it.
Even the 1st District, which is generally considered the safe for Democrats, may be in play in 2022. The new district lines have a +11 partisan lean favoring Democrats but that’s not insurmountable, especially with pro-life Michelle Garcia Holmes as the Republican nominee. Pro-abortion Congresswoman Melanie Stansbury won her seat in a special election in 2021. She is running for a full term in November.
Pro-life Senator John Thune, who currently serves as the minority whip in the Senate, and Congressman Dusty Johnson (SD-At-Large) won the Republican nomination for their respective offices. Both hold 100% pro-life voting records with National Right to Life and are heavily favored to win re-election in November.
Pro-life Governor Kristi Noem fended off a primary challenger winning the Republican nomination as she seeks another term. Governor Noem has demonstrated tremendous pro-life leadership in her state, signing some of the nation’s strongest protections for unborn children and their mothers.