Recent analysis from the Associate Press (AP) and the New York Times show Democratic candidates in state races using the contentious issue of abortion against their opponents, hoping to boost what is feared to be sluggish support for the party in November's mid-term elections.
According to the AP's Sept. 30 report, New York Republican gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino was the subject of a heated pro-abortion commercial when, after winning the nomination from his party, told an interviewer that he opposes abortion even in cases of rape or incest. Abortion advocates aired commercials last week claiming that Paladino wants to treat women as criminals by outlawing abortion.
"It became pretty clear to us we had the most anti-choice candidate the state had ever seen," argued Mary Alice Carr, spokeswoman for NARAL Pro-Choice New York. The abortion supporting group has endorsed the state's Democratic nominee Andrew Cuomo.
Additionally, in the race for U.S. Senate, hopeful Republican Joe DioGuardi – a longtime abortion opponent – was recently and publicly questioned on the issue by incumbent Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand.
"I think the Democrats sense they are facing a turnout issue heading into election day. There's enthusiasm among Republicans and not much enthusiasm among Democrats," Siena pollster Steven Greenberg told the AP. "It is an issue that really appeals to Democratic voters."
New York attorney general candidate Democrat Eric Schneiderman, also touched on the issue of abortion on Sept. 28 to a crowd in Albany. Schneiderman, who has been endorsed by Planned Parenthood Advocates of New York, told supporters that he will "aggressively defend" their rights to birth control, adding that at the age of 17, he worked at a Washington abortion clinic.
Commenting on the insight of pollster Steven Greenberg, the AP wrote that one aspect of candidates bringing up the heated topic of abortion “is the desire to rouse part of the Democratic base that may have become lethargic since President Barack Obama's win two years ago.”
On Oct. 7, the New York Times discussed a “bruising” Senate race currently underway in Colorado, where Republican candidate Ken Buck has been the focus of a controversial ad approved by his Democratic opponent, Michael Bennett. The ad features a female obstetrician in scrubs arguing that women will lose control of their bodies if Buck were to win.
Buck's campaign told the New York Times that the attacks are merely an attempt to deflect from other, more important concerns.
“The No. 1 issues are jobs and the economy, and Michael Bennet can’t run on that,” Owen Loftus, a spokesman for Buck, told the paper. “It’s a desperate effort by a desperate campaign.”
Bennett was appointed last year to replace former Democratic Senator Ken Salazar, who is now secretary of the interior. Earlier this week, Bennett presented a new agenda attempting to link advancements for women – specifically as business owners, workers and mothers – to abortion support.
Contrary to Bennett's stance, Loftus told the NY Times that Buck believes life to begin at conception and opposes abortion even in cases of rape and incest. However, he added, Buck's vision as a senator would highlight issues surrounding the economy.