How Roe continues to shape elections

How Roe continues to shape elections

TOP LINE

Following what would have been the 50th anniversary of Roe v. Wade over the weekend, voters in states around the country will spend the coming cycles deciding on abortion access.

“The key battles for reproductive access will be fought at the state level in the next two years and beyond,” Democratic California Attorney General Rob Bonta said on a call with reporters last week. “We’re determined that the 50th anniversary of Roe will be the darkest one — that it only gets better from here, that freedom of choice can one day again be unfettered, fully protected under the law at the state level first and then one day again, nationally.”

A special election in Pennsylvania on Feb. 7 for three state House positions will determine the majority after months of contention about which party is in charge. Democrats in Pennsylvania won the majority of seats in the state House this fall. But after two Democratic state House members stepped down because they won higher office and another Democrat died, Democrats started the year with 99 seats to Republicans’ 101.

Anti-abortion activists gather on Capitol Hill during the first March for Life since the Supreme Court overturned the Roe vs. Wade decision that created a legal right to an abortion in the United States, in Washington, Friday, Jan. 20, 2023.

Anti-abortion activists gather on Capitol Hill during the first March for Life since the Supreme Court overturned the Roe vs. Wade decision that created a legal right to an abortion in the United States, in Washington, on Jan. 20, 2023. | J. Scott Applewhite/AP Photo

The race also has implications for abortion legislation in the state. Last year, the Republican-controlled legislature passed a proposed constitutional amendment in an omnibus bill that in part says there’s no constitutional right to abortion. In order for a proposed amendment to make the ballot in the state, it has to pass the legislature two sessions in a row.

If Democrats win the state House majority in just a little over two weeks, they’ll be better suited to block the proposal from making the ballot. But if Republicans claim the majority following the special election, it’s more likely the proposal could make it in front of voters later this year.

New York is likely to put an abortion-related measure on the ballot as well, but one that updates the state’s constitution to include reproductive health protections and gender equality protections from discrimination. The Democratic-controlled legislature passed the measure last year, but must pass it again this year before it reaches the ballot. State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said she intends that the legislature will pass it again.

Processes to get initiatives on the ballot vary from state to state. Some states allow citizen-initiated referendums rather than those that start in state legislatures. That includes Ohio, where abortion rights advocates are working on a constitutional amendment. One group, Ohioans for Reproductive Freedom, is working with Mission Control Inc., the firm that worked on the successful campaigns against anti-abortion ballot proposals in Kansas and Kentucky last year.

Ohioans for Reproductive Freedom said it plans to file language with the state attorney general’s office next month. A separate group, Ohio Physicians for Reproductive Rights, is also working on amendment language. It’s not yet clear if these will be on the ballot in 2023 or 2024. But if they are put forth in 2024, turnout for the measure will likely be higher than 2023, with it being a presidential year and a major Senate race occurring in the state.

In the backdrop of these efforts are moves in the state legislature to raise the threshold required for a constitutional amendment to pass. It’s a dynamic also at play in Missouri, where the Republican-controlled legislature is attempting to pass legislation increasing the number of signatures required to get a citizen-led initiative on the ballot. Abortion rights advocates in Missouri are contemplating a 2024 referendum.

Efforts to pose abortion-related questions to voters are also taking place in Oklahoma, South Dakota and Iowa, as well as other states.

Happy Monday. Send tips and feedback to [email protected] and @madfernandez616.

Days until the VA-04 special election: 29

Days until the Kentucky primary: 113

Days until the Mississippi primary: 197

Days until the Louisiana primary: 264

Days until the 2023 election: 288

Days until the 2024 election: 652

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CAMPAIGN INTEL

2024 WATCH — Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) is running for reelection. Kaine said he expects a tough race, describing his state as still a battleground, POLITICO’s Marianne LeVine reports. Republicans say they’re keeping close tabs, and many see GOP Gov. Glenn Youngkin as their top pick to take on Kaine. Youngkin also could run for president in 2024.

… Republican Hung Cao, a strong fundraiser who lost to Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-Va.) in 2022 by around 6 points, is also considering a potential Senate run.

… Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) remained noncommittal about running for reelection. “Everything’s on the table,” Manchin said on Sunday’s “Meet the Press.” That includes running for president, but not running for governor.

… Left Hook Strategy and MissionWired are set to work on Rep. Barbara Lee’s (D-Calif.) Senate race.

RNC RACE — The RNC leadership vote takes place later this week. In a last-ditch effort to upend the Republican National Committee chair race, challenger Harmeet Dhillon has begun a full court press of various factions of a party in search of skeptics of current chair Ronna McDaniel, POLITICO’s Natalie Allison and Meridith McGraw write. Her team has made a concerted effort in recent days to court a small number of anti-Trump RNC members, according to two people familiar with the strategy. They’ve sought to make the case that McDaniel’s connections to the former president, who hand-picked her as chair after his 2016 victory, will prevent her from being completely neutral in an upcoming presidential primary, a criticism McDaniel has publicly rejected.

… Over the weekend, the Nebraska Republican Party’s steering committee voted to support Dhillon over McDaniel, Nebraska Examiner’s Aaron Sanderford reports.

ENDORSEMENT CORNER — Former President Donald Trump is wading into the races for state party leadership. Trump endorsed Matt DePerno for Michigan Republican Party chair, saying that “Republicans in Michigan must unite and work together if they want to save Michigan.” It’s a crowded field of contenders, including failed Michigan secretary of state candidate Kristina Karamo — another Trump ally — and voting will take place next month. Current chair Ron Weiser is not running for reelection.

REDISTRICTING REVIEW — Republican North Carolina legislative leaders filed a petition on Friday for the state Supreme Court to rehear a redistricting case that ruled that state congressional and legislative maps were partisan gerrymanders, The Carolina Journal reports. “The newly configured court, with a 5-2 Republican majority, could reverse a 4-3 decision handed down last month. … Regardless of the Supreme Court’s response to the new petition, state lawmakers plan to redraw the congressional election map for 2024. A rehearing could determine whether the legislature will redraw maps for its own elections.”

MEDIA WATCH — Americano Media is looking to become the Fox News of Spanish-speaking America, Natalie reports. The conservative media network, which launched in March, is embarking on an aggressive expansion plan to shape center-right Hispanic opinion during the upcoming election cycle. The network has hired more than 80 Latino journalists and producers, are expanding their radio presence to television, and by the end of the year will have studios in Miami, Las Vegas and D.C. with reporters covering the White House, Congress and embedding in 2024 presidential campaigns.

VOTING RIGHTS

FIRST IN SCORE — We the Veterans, a nonprofit focused on military veterans and their families, is launching new ads for their Vet the Vote campaign, our Zach Montellaro writes in. Vet the Vote aims to recruit military veterans and family members to become local poll workers, and the organization said that more than 63,000 veterans and military spouses signed up through their program during the midterms. The organization touted that 93 percent of those volunteers indicated they plan on serving as a poll worker again, and that 80 percent of them felt increased trust in elections after going through poll worker training.

The new ad campaign focuses on a sense of duty to urge the military community to sign up. “As veterans, and military family members, our service continues as the new generation of poll workers,” the ad’s narrator says. “Because whether you vote left or vote right, we’re all in this together.”

— “An Arizona official has a plan to speed up election results. Not everyone is on board,” by NPR’s Ben Giles: Republican Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer hopes to implement a 5 p.m. deadline on the Friday before Election Day to return early ballots. “To offset the frustration, he proposes expanding Election Day operations to Saturday through Tuesday, as well as expanding the early voting period from 27 to 32 days. … But election experts and advocates are wary of scaling back such a popular voting method, all in the name of faster results.”

— “Election deniers mostly lost in 2022. Their ideas still have a foothold anyway,” Zach writes.

Presidential Big Board

— Mike Pence’s political operation has poached a top adviser to Nikki Haley as the two jostle for a position in the looming 2024 GOP presidential contest, POLITICO’s Alex Isenstadt reports. Tim Chapman, who had been serving as the executive director of Haley’s political nonprofit, has departed to join the Pence team. Chapman will be a senior adviser to Pence’s nonprofit, Advancing American Freedom. The move comes as competition in a shadow primary heats up, with Republicans jockeying for top staff and donors ahead of expected campaign announcements.

— “Advisers to Donald Trump have blanketed South Carolina Republican officials with pleading phone calls in recent weeks in an effort to drum up endorsements and attendees for the former president’s first campaign swing of the 2024 cycle next week,” The Washington Post’s Michael Scherer and Josh Dawsey report. “But the appeals have run headlong into a complicated new reality: Many of the state’s lawmakers and political operatives, and even some of his previous supporters, are not ready to pick a presidential candidate.”

— “Two thousand attendees at the National Pro-Life Summit cast their votes on Saturday for their favorite prospective GOP nominee for president in 2024. The winner is: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis,” Rolling Stone’s Kara Voght and Tessa Stuart write. “It was the first 2024 straw poll conducted among anti-abortion voters, one of the Republican Party’s most loyal voting blocs. DeSantis banked more than half of the votes cast, 53.73 percent. Former President Donald Trump placed in a distant second with just 19.22 percent.”

THE CASH DASH

— Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Janet Protasiewicz’s campaign has reserved $700,000 in television advertising in the three weeks leading up to the Feb. 21 primary. The ad buys are in the Milwaukee, Green Bay, Wausau-Rhinelander, Madison, and La Crosse-Eau Claire media markets. Protasiewicz, one of the liberal candidates in the nonpartisan election, raised over $756,000 in the last six months of 2022, which was more than all of her opponents combined.

— More than $60 million was raised and spent by the candidates in Arizona’s gubernatorial race, breaking a state record, The Arizona Republic’s Stacey Barchenger reports. “The record-breaking money race, when counting candidate spending alone, is the result of increased contribution limits and a shift away from the use of public funds that have together led to larger fundraising hauls, as well as more national attention on Arizona as a shifting political battleground.”

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POLL POSITION

— Republican Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, who’s running in a crowded GOP field for governor, released a poll on Friday showing him in the lead with 39 percent of the vote. Former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Kelly Craft and Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles both have 8 percent according to the poll, which was conducted by Meeting Street Research. Thirty-eight percent are undecided. (500 Republican primary voters, Jan. 9-11, MoE +/- 4.38 percentage points.)

CODA — QUOTE OF THE DAY: “A never-ending focus on campaign politics is why so many people hate politics.” (Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.) on KTAR)

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