Pro-life candidates swept into office nationwide on a wave election seldom seen in U.S. history, fueled by opposition to the poor economy, President Obama, and his signature accomplishment: ObamaCare.
Republicans gained control of the U.S. Senate last night, winning 22 of the 36 contested seats as of this writing, including every race considered a “toss-up,” except New Hampshire. They also increased their House majority, and deepened their hold on governor's mansions and state legislatures across the nation.
Those candidates most outspoken on abortion outperformed those who were reticent to engage the pro-life community.
Joni Ernst won a comfortable victory in Iowa, despite her refusal to back down from her support for “personhood,” telling a state newspaper, “I will continue to stand by that. I am pro-life.”
Arkansas insurgent Tom Cotton defeated incumbent Democrat Mark Pryor by a massive 27 points, showing himself willing to draw deep distinctions between himself and Pryor on the issue of life. Cotton told a local interview that Pryor's voting record shows he believes “faith is something that only happens at 11 o'clock Sunday mornings.”
Vulnerable Republican incumbent Pat Roberts retained his seat in Kansas over “independent” Greg Orman by 11 percentage points. Roberts called Orman, who was endorsed by the state's abortion providers, “unconscionable” on the issue of life. Meanwhile, Thom Tillis beat North Carolina incumbent Kay Hagan despite commitments from Planned Parenthood and EMILY'S List to spend $3 million each in the state.
On the other hand, the candidates most associated with the “war on women” rhetoric went down in flames. Wendy Davis, the pink sneaker-clad champion of late-term abortion, lost her bid to become governor of Texas to pro-life Republican Greg Abbott by 20 percentage points (59 percent to 39 percent with 99 percent of precincts reporting) – and a Republican picked up her state Senate seat. The public face of the HHS mandate, Sandra Fluke, lost her first race for state Senate in California by a crushing 22 points. And U.S. Senator Mark Udall, whose campaign focused so singularly upon abortion and contraception that a Denver Post reporter dubbed him “Mark Uterus,” lost his hotly contested race to Cory Gardner.
Pro-life Senator Tim Scott made history as the first black man elected to the Senate from South Carolina since Reconstruction.
The tilt means that control of the Senate will shift from Harry Reid to presumptive Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who promised to allow a vote on a bill Reid had repressed, which would ban abortion after children are capable of feeling pain.
Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser – whose organization spent $5 million and contacted 900,000 pro-life voters by election day – called the midterms an “overwhelming victory” and urged McConnell to move forward with a pro-life legislative agenda. “We are encouraged with the new pro-life Senate and look forward to a vote on our top legislative priority, the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act,” she said. “This compassionate, popular legislation will protect the lives of more than 18,000 unborn children per year.”
While the Senate captured the most headlines, Republicans expanded their control of the House of Representatives by winning 15 seats, the largest GOP increase since 1946.
The National Right to Life Coalition says 72 percent of the candidates it actively supported prevailed.
The pro-life wave crested high enough to elect Republican candidates all but written off in the national media. Maine Governor Paul LePage, an outspoken pro-life governor in deep blue Maine, defeated Mike Michaud, the Democrat who sought to become the nation's first openly gay governor. Sam Brownback, a former U.S. Senator, overcame a revolt from “moderates” his own party ranks, as Kansas Republicans endorsed a pro-abortion Democrat after disagreeing with Brownback's tax policies.
Pro-life governors generally won re-election, with Governors John Kasich and Scott Walker turning back pro-abortion challengers. Both are likely 2016 presidential contenders. Rick Scott of Florida, Mary Fallin of Oklahoma, Nathan Deal of Georgia, Nikki Haley of South Carolina, Alabama's Robert Bentley, Idaho's Butch Otter, and Iowa's Terry Branstad were among the 24 Republicans to win gubernatorial races. Republicans also flipped control of the Minnesota state legislature.
Republicans of all ideological bents benefited from the anti-Obama backlash, as Senator Susan Collins, Bruce Rauner, and Congressman Bob Dold won despite holding positions on abortion that are “pro-choice” or muddled.
“In a year that saw mayors subpoena pastors, judges trash marriage amendments, and HHS strong-arm pro-lifers, the values momentum was a turning point — not just for Congress, but for the nation,” Tony Perkins, the president of the Family Research Council, said. “Voters nationalized the election which appears to be just what the moderate GOP candidates needed to get them across the finish line, since they've been unable to close the deal with voters themselves.”
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Pro-life state initiatives proved a mixed bag. Tennessee passed Amendment 1, allowing the state to pass future regulations on abortion. However, two measures that opponents called “personhood” measures were defeated in North Dakota and Colorado. The Brady Amendment, which would have amended the criminal code to recognize an unborn child as a person, differed from previous personhood amendments, which Colorado voters rejected in previous elections.
As of this writing, two Senate races remain too close to call. With 99 percent of precincts in, Mark Warner of Virginia leads Republican Ed Gillespie in a race Warner was anticipated to win handily. In Alaska, Republican Dan Sullivan holds a prohibitive lead over pro-abortion incumbent Mark Begich, who refuses to concede.
A final race will be determined next month, when pro-abortion Democrat Mary Landrieu will go head-to-head with Bill Cassidy in a run-off election. Landrieu won the election with one percent of the vote but failed to receive 50 pecent of the vote against Cassidy and a second Republican candidate. Cassidy is favored to win.
The results support life and traditional marriage. National Organization for Marriage President Brian Brown says NOM spent $200,000 supporting Tillis and and Cotton, as well as putting in grassroots efforts for Roberts, Ernst, Brownback, and Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse.
“It's time for the GOP elite and consultant class to wake up and realize that marriage is a winning issue, in red states and blue,” Brown said. “We look forward to working with Congress to advance the cause of marriage.”