Ben Johnson


Pro-lifers set back in Senate, too

Ben Johnson

WASHINGTON, D.C., November 7, 2012, ( – As if narrowly losing the White House were not devastating enough, Republicans took a drubbing in Senate races nationwide, significantly setting back the pro-life movement from Maine to California.

In a race watched by pro-family groups everywhere, Missouri’s Todd Akin lost to incumbent Democrat Claire McCaskill by16 percentage points. After Akin said “legitimate rape” rarely ends in pregnancy, Republican Party leaders pulled his funding, as did Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS super PAC. Akin defied party leaders and stayed in the race, briefly returning to frontrunner status. In the end, the vulnerable and unpopular Democrat won, and six percent of voters chose a third party candidate.

Indiana’s Richard Mourdock also came up short in his race against Joe Donnelly.  Donnelly, who campaigned as a pro-life Democrat, voted for President Obama’s health care bill, costing him the support of most pro-life groups. However, Mourdock’s misstatements on abortion and rape cost him the race by 5.5 percent – less than the number of votes earned by Libertarian Party candidate Andrew Horning. The Washington Post presciently called Horning the “Hoosier Ralph Nader.”

Obama’s strong turnout had coattails that pulled close races in three swing states into the Democratic column.

Virginia’s Senate race, which pitted former governors Tim Kaine and George Allen against one another, concluded with Kaine eking out a close victory. Democrats for Life of American endorsed Kaine, who campaigned as an unabashedly “pro-choice” candidate, until Kelsey Hazzard of Secular Pro-Life publicly questioned the move on her blog. 

Wisconsin’s Tammy Baldwin defeated former governor Tommy Thompson, and in Ohio, incumbent Democrat Sherrod Brown defeated young veteran John Mandel.

The Democrats picked up one seat, as Elizabeth Warren turned Republican Senator Scott Brown out of Ted Kennedy’s former seat.

In New Mexico, strongly pro-abortion Martin Heinrich defeated the moderate Republican, Heather Wilson. Wilson voted to continue federal funding for Planned Parenthood and stem cell research, and voted twice to promote the use of RU-486 en route to earning a meager 42 percent voting record with the National Right to Life Committee. 

Maine voters elected former Governor Angus King, an independent, as a Senator. King is expected to caucus with Democrats.

The results were disappointing for a party that once entertained notions of regaining the Senate majority.

Despite the setbacks, pro-lifers had significant victories.

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Nebraska’s Deb Fischer, the Tea Party favorite who upset Attorney General Jon Bruning in the Republican primary, beat Bob Kerrey. Kerry served one term as governor and two terms as U.S. Senator before running for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1992.

Jeff Flake, who has a 100 percent voting record with the National Right to Life Committee, won an open seat in Arizona. 

Ted Cruz cruised to victory in Texas.

Roger Wicker of Mississippi retained his seat, as did Utah’s Orrin Hatch and Wyoming’s John Barrasso.

Republicans retained control of the House of Representatives. In the wee hours of the night media outlets said Michele Bachmann, who briefly led the Republican presidential race, held her hotly contested seat in Minnesota.

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