Roundup: Why the Alaska Senate Race May Be All About Abortion Again

Robin Marty

Throwing Amendment 2 into the mix to get a radically conservative primary winner worked so well that anti-abortion activists appear to be planning a repeat for the general.

If it weren’t for the Alaska parental notification law, it’s unclear if we would have the same three way race we would be seeing for the Alaskan senate.  After all, it was the infusion of money to push Amendment 2 that got large amounts of extremely anti-choice voters to the polls — voters who overwhelmingly supported Joe Miller over sitting senator Lisa Murkowski.

Now, with Miller and Murkowski neck and neck while she stages a write-in campaign, it appears abortion is being brought back into the forefront of the race as a differentiator between the three rival candidates.

Via The Miami Herald:

In an election year in which the economy and federal spending have eclipsed the debate over social issues in much of the country, abortion has emerged as a divisive factor in Alaska’s U.S. Senate race.

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It’s an issue that perfectly defines all three, with Republican Joe Miller the anti-abortion candidate, Democrat Scott McAdams the pro-choice one and Sen. Lisa Murkowski straddling the middle.

Murkowski, who does not oppose abortion but also declines to describe herself as pro-choice, lost the Republican primary in part because anti-abortion voters turned out in great numbers to support a voter initiative requiring parents to be notified before their teen receives an abortion. Miller came out strongly for the proposal, known as Measure 2.

Since she launched her write-in bid, Murkowski has been targeted by anti-abortion groups with television and radio advertising. The most visible is a television commercial from the Senate Conservatives Fund political action committee run by Republican Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina, a Miller backer.

The television ad takes aim at both Murkowski and Democrat McAdams, saying they’ve refused to sign a pledge saying they’ll vote against federal funding for abortion and calling Miller the sole choice “to defend the unborn.”

Is Murkowski really the middle point on abortion?  It was painting her as “pro-choice” that won Miller his surprise primary victory.  Still, I suppose that to a man who is against abortion even in cases of rape or incest, any deviation is considered “pro-choice.”  Anchorage Daily News reports:

Murkowski’s position on abortion has long been difficult to define. In her first appointed Senate term, she voted for a nonbinding “sense of the Senate” that supported the Roe v. Wade decision. However, she also has voted against federal funding for abortion and has supported a ban on late-term abortions. She has said she believes abortions should be allowed in the case of rape, incest or when the life of the mother is at risk.

Although Murkowski also supported the parental notification ballot question known as Measure 2, she did not do so as loudly or publicly as Miller. In her candidate questionnaire, Murkowski said she believes “abortions should occur as infrequently as possible and federal funds should not be used to pay for an abortion.” She also points to an amendment she offered last year that would have clarified that abortion is not a preventative service.

She said in a recent interview that she dislikes labels when it comes to abortion, which is a position she said she believes is held by most Americans.

“The labels have never been clean or neat,” Murkowski said. “The pro-life people don’t think I’m pro-life enough, the pro-choice people don’t think I’m pro-choice enough. I think I probably represent the vast majority in the middle.”

Still, concervatives aren’t taking anything for granted when it comes to defending their primary candidate.  In an attempt to replicate the success they had with using Amendment 2 to get supporters to the polls who would vote Miller over Murkowski, they’ve found a way to work an abortion issue into the general, too, by trying to oust a judge that ruled against parental notification.  From Fairbanks Daily News:

Alaskans should pay close attention to one justice up for retention on the Alaska Supreme Court. Her name is Dana Fabe, and the time has come for her to be held accountable for the outrageous decisions she’s imposed on the people of Alaska.

Remember Ballot Measure 2, the parental notification initiative regarding a minor’s abortion that Alaskans recently voted in support of? Justice Fabe wrote the decision striking down the law the Alaska Legislature had overwhelmingly passed requiring a parent’s consent for this surgical procedure. Her ruling forced the people of Alaska to take back their rights as parents.

Justice Fabe also has abused her authority in rulings that prohibited Alaskans from voting on a proposed amendment limiting the rights of prisoners, struck down part of an amendment defining marriage in our Constitution before voters had their say and ordered Valley Hospital to perform abortions — even though its board didn’t want to. So much for “freedom of choice.”

The Alaska Judicial Council, the commission created to screen and nominate judicial applicants and evaluate the performance of judges, thinks Justice Fabe should stay because she’s competent, intelligent and she hasn’t had any disciplinary issues. Although these are important issues in determining whether to retain a judge, they have nothing to do with why Justice Fabe should be voted off the bench.

Mini Roundup: Graphic anti-abortion ads in DC candidate Missy Smith has a new campaign manager. Yup, Randall Terry.  Come on, you had to see that coming, right?

October 25, 2010

Topics and Tags:

Alaska, Joe Miller, Lisa Murkowski

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