Politics

Election Aborted Careers of Many Pro-Choice Republicans

One theme emerging from the 2006 elections is the ongoing march to extinction in the House of pro-choice Republicans. The already small pro-choice contingent in the GOP caucus was cut in half, as pro-choice Republicans performed much worse than the rest of the party.

No Help From PACs

First, consider the Republicans who received money from pro-choice PACs. Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America are the two largest pro-choice PACs (not counting EMILY’s List, which gives only to Democratic candidates). Five Republican candidates (including one senator—Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island) received money from one or both of these PACs in 2006. All five lost.

Similarly, the Republican Majority for Choice PAC funded 16 GOP candidates for House and Senate. Only four won.

Most striking was the poor performance of incumbents funded by these PACs. Incumbent Republicans supported by NARAL and Planned Parenthood went zero for three. Incumbent Republicans supported by Republican Majority for Choice were a dismal four for 11.

Of 199 House Republicans entering the 110th Congress, only two have received money from Planned Parenthood or NARAL in the past 10 years: Illinois Representatives Mark Kirk and Judy Biggert. Only two of 49 Republican senators have received money from these pro-choice groups in the past decade: Maine Senators Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins.

Beyond campaign contributions, voting records paint a similar picture: The most pro-choice Republicans were far more likely to lose than pro-life or moderate Republicans.

The most recent contested vote on the abortion issue in the House was a May 10 amendment to the Defense Authorization bill that would have permitted taxpayer funding of abortions on military bases. It lost, 191 to 237, with 23 Republicans voting for it. Of those 23, only 12 will be returning in January.

Four of these pro-choice Republicans are retiring or have resigned, including disgraced former Rep. Mark Foley of Florida. Seven lost on Election Day, and two—Representatives Deborah Pryce (Ohio) and Christopher Shays (Conn.)—almost lost.

Voting against taxpayer funding for soldiers’ abortions does not make one pro-life, to be sure. For example, many on the pro-life side of this vote supported taxpayer funding of research on human embryos. But it is fair to say that the 23 pro-tax-funded abortion Republicans are the 23 most pro-choice Republicans. This group had a 63.2% re-election rate (12 for 19), while the rest of the House GOP caucus had a 93% (174 for 187) re-election rate. Put another way, pro-choice Republicans represented 9% of the incumbents running on Election Day, but 35% of the incumbents losing on Election Day.

Pro-choice Rep. Joe Schwarz (Mich.), who has received funding from Planned Parenthood and Republican Majority for Choice, was beaten in his primary by pro-life Republican Tim Walberg, who easily won in the general election.

On the other side of the aisle, the Democrats for Life PAC funded three pro-life Democrats, and all three won.

The 110th Congress will feature 13 Republican freshmen who are mostly conservative pro-lifers. None of the 13 Republican freshmen are identifiably pro-choice.

Pro-Choice House Republicans in the Outgoing 109th Congress: 24

This includes all congressmen who voted for taxpayer-funded abortions in 2006, received money from pro-choice PACs since 1998, or both.

Departing Pro-Choice Republicans: 12 Returning Pro-Choice Republicans in 110th Congress: 12
Resigned/Retired: 4 Re-Elected: 12
Sherwood Boehlert Judy Biggert
Mark Foley Mary Bono
Jim Kolbe Shelley Moore-Capito
Bill Thomas Mike Castle
Lost: 8 Charlie Dent
Charley Bass Rodney Frelinghuysen
Jeb Bradley Wayne Gilchrist
Nancy Johnson Mark Kirk
Sue Kelly Deborah Pryce
Jim Leach Jim Ramstad
Joe Schwarz (lost in primary) Christopher Shays
Clay Shaw Greg Walden
Rob Simmons

 

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