Pro-Life Recap: June 28th Primaries

By Karen Cross, NRL Political Director

Special Election: Nebraska’s 1st Congressional District

In the special election in Nebraska’s 1st Congressional District, National Right to Life-endorsed state Senator Mike Flood (R) defeated pro-abortion Democrat state Senator Patty Pansing Brooks. Congressman-elect Flood fills the vacancy left by Rep. Jeff Fortenberry’s resignation in March. Flood, who served in Nebraska’s unicameral legislature, holds a special distinction within the pro-life movement having introduced the first Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act*.

His opponent, Patty Pansing Brooks, was endorsed by pro-abortion groups including EMILY’s List and the nation’s largest chain of abortion clinics, Planned Parenthood. They hoped to pull off an upset in the first Congressional election after the Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs which affirmed that there is no constitutional “right to abortion” and returned abortion policymaking to the people through their elected representatives. But Nebraska voters rejected Pansing Brooks and her extreme position supporting abortion on demand for any reason and using tax dollars to pay for it.

In Tuesday’s special election, Flood was elected to finish out Fortenberry’s term so he will have to face voters again in November to win a full term. The Cook Political Report rates the November race as “Safe Republican.”

*Signed into law in Nebraska in April 2010, the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act recognizes the excruciating pain that unborn babies experience and protects them from abortions after 20 weeks. Based on National Right to Life model legislation, this law kickstarted similar efforts across the country and helped to pave the way for the Supreme Court’s historic ruling in Dobbs.

Colorado Senate Primary Election

In the race for U.S. Senate in Colorado, Joe O’Dea, the CEO of a construction company, won the Republican nomination to take on pro-abortion incumbent Senator Michael Bennet. While Colorado has trended Democrat in recent statewide elections, national Democrats are not convinced that Sen. Bennet’s re-election is a sure thing. In a sign of their uneasiness with Bennet’s position, Democrats dumped millions of dollars in attempts to meddle in the Republican primary. Bennet holds an extreme position on abortion, supporting a policy of abortion on demand for any reason, and he supports using tax dollars to pay for it.

In contrast, Joe O’Dea’s campaign website states, “Joe O’Dea strongly supports a nationwide ban on late-term abortion, a nationwide ban on taxpayer funding for abortion, a nationwide parental choice requirement, and will fight any attempt to make religious hospitals perform a procedure they object to. Joe is adamantly against Chuck Schumer’s late term abortion bill, and strongly opposes Jared Polis’ late-term abortion bill.” 

The Schumer-backed bill to which the O’Dea website refers is the so-called Women’s Health Protection Act, which should really be called the “Abortion Without Limits Until Birth Act.” It would enshrine abortion in federal law and policies, and it would tear down pro-life protections on the state level, including parental involvement laws, informed consent laws, and more. Underscoring his extreme position on abortion, Bennet cosponsored and voted for this bill. The Cook Political Report currently rates the Colorado Senate race as “Likely Democrat” but it is definitely one to watch as the November general election approaches.

Mississippi Primary Runoff Elections
In Mississippi’s 3rd Congressional District, National Right to Life-endorsed Rep. Michael Guest was victorious in the Republican primary over challenger Michael Cassidy. Guest holds a 100% pro-life voting record with National Right to Life.

In Mississippi’s 4th Congressional District, pro-life challenger Mike Ezell defeated pro-life incumbent Rep. Steven Palazzo in the Republican primary. Ezell’s campaign website states, “As a Christian father and grandfather, Mike Ezell firmly believes in the right to life of the unborn. He’ll fight to protect those that can’t protect themselves and put a stop to taxpayer-funded abortion.”

Oklahoma Primary Elections
In Oklahoma, pro-life champions Senator James Lankford (R) and Governor Kevin Stitt (R) won their primaries as they seek re-election. Both were endorsed by National Right to Life. The Cook Political Report rates both races as “Safe Republican” for the November general election.

Earlier this year, pro-life Senator Jim Inhofe (R), who is 87 years old, announced that he would retire before the end of his term. On Tuesday, the state held the primary for a special election to fill the seat, which will run concurrently with the November 8th midterm elections. The top two Republican candidates are pro-life Congressman Markwayne Mullin and pro-life former state House speaker T.W. Shannon. Since neither candidate received more than 50% of the vote, Mullin and Shannon will proceed to a primary runoff election to be held on August 23rd. The winner will face pro-abortion former Congresswoman Kendra Horn, who secured the Democratic nomination on Tuesday.

Utah Primary Elections

In Utah, pro-life Senator Mike Lee and each incumbent member of the state’s House delegation, all of whom are Republicans, won the Republican nomination for November’s general election.

New York Primary Elections
In New York, pro-life Congressman Lee Zeldin won the Republican primary to take on pro-abortion Governor Kathy Hochul who is running for a full term after succeeding former Governor Andrew Cuomo in 2021. Hochul’s record on abortion is truly abysmal. In addition to her support for abortion on demand for any reason in New York, Hochul recently directed the New York Department of Health to harass pro-life pregnancy resource centers.

In the race for U.S. Senate, Joe Pinion secured the Republican nomination to take on pro-abortion Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. While most political observers would consider the battle ahead uphill for Pinion to unseat Schumer, one should never say “never” in politics.

Note: Due to legal battles over its redistricted Congressional map, New York moved its Congressional primaries to August 23rd.

Illinois Primary Elections

In the Illinois gubernatorial race, pro-life State Senator Darren Bailey won the Republican nomination. He will face off against pro-abortion incumbent Governor JB Pritzker (D). Bailey’s campaign website states, “As a man of faith, Darren is proudly pro-life and will always stand up to protect the rights of the unborn. Darren believes in the sanctity of life, and as a state legislator, voted against the extreme overhaul and expansion of abortion access in Illinois.  Darren opposes state and taxpayer funding of abortions. As Governor, he will continue to defend innocent life.”

In contrast, Pritzker signed a bill repealing the state’s parental notification law, allowing minors to get abortions without a parent or legal guardian’s knowledge. Following the Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs, Pritzker called for a special session of the Illinois legislature to take “swift action to further enshrine our commitment to reproductive health care rights.”

As a result of redistricting in Illinois, two pairs of House incumbents faced off against each other on Tuesday.

Pro-abortion Reps. Sean Casten and Marie Newman duked it out in the 6th Congressional District’s Democratic primary with Casten ultimately winning with over 2/3 of the vote. While both Democrats support a policy of abortion on demand, Newman’s loss is a special blow to the abortion industry. In 2020, she had been recruited and funded by abortion advocates to take out pro-life Democrat Dan Lipinski. Casten will face Oreland Park Mayor Keith Pekau (R) in the general election. The Cook Political Report rates the race as a Tossup.

In the newly drawn 15th Congressional District, pro-life incumbent Reps. Mary Miller and Rodney Davis faced off in the Republican primary. Congresswoman Miller claimed victory with about 58% of the vote to Davis’s 42%. Miller faces Democrat Paul Lange in the general election. With a partisan lean of R+42, the district is considered Safe Republican.

The race in the 13th Congressional District, which is considered one of the state’s most competitive in 2022, will be a matchup between pro-life Republican Regan Deering and pro-abortion Democrat Nikki Budzinski. Deering, an educator and small business owner, credits her own adoption story with helping to form her pro-life views. She noted, “I am forever grateful to have been adopted at birth by a loving and supportive family – a factor that has shaped my perspective on the pro-life stance. My birth mother made the most difficult decision and chose to give me the opportunity to live my life to the fullest. I believe that every life is essential.” In contrast, Budzinski supports a policy of abortion on demand for any reason and would use tax dollars to pay for it. She is endorsed by EMILY’s List, NARAL Pro-Choice America, and Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest chain of abortion clinics.

Kendall County Chairman Scott Gryder won the Republican nomination in the 14th Congressional District. Gryder is pro-life, stating in response to the Dobbs ruling, “I believe life is sacred and worthy of protection in a nation where all are created equal.” He faces pro-abortion incumbent Congresswoman Lauren Underwood (D), who holds a 0% rating with National Right to Life. Underwood supports a policy of abortion on demand for any reason and supports using tax dollars to pay for it. The Cook Political Report rates the race “Likely Democratic” but this will be one to watch heading into the fall.  

In the race for the open seat in the 17th Congressional District, pro-life Republican Esther Joy King and pro-abortion Democrat Eric Sorensen will advance to the general election. The seat is currently held by pro-abortion Rep. Cheri Bustos (D) whose near-loss to King in 2020 shocked many political observers. Bustos opted not to run for election rather than face a rematch with King. After the redistricting process in Illinois, which heavily favored Democrats, the 17th District went from being R+5 to D+4. Despite the bluer bent of the district, the Cook Political Report rates the race as a pure tossup.  

South Carolina Primary Runoff Election

Pro-abortion State Representative Krystle Matthews prevailed in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate. In the general election, Matthews is challenging pro-life incumbent Senator Tim Scott (R), who holds a 100% pro-life voting record with National Right to Life. Most political observers consider the race to be Safe Republican.