News Politics

Wendy Long Wins GOP Nomination For New York Senate — What Does She Believe?

Robin Marty

The former Clarence Thomas clerk will now take on Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand in November.  But what are the differences between the two women?

Wendy Long may have been the sound winner of the New York Republican primary, but when it comes to winning the senate seat away from Democrat Kristen Gillibrand, it’s going to be a much harder process.

Long, a New York attorney who once clerked for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, came away from the primary with over 50 percent of the vote, a double digit lead over her next nearest competitor, Republican Congressman Bob Turner. But now that she is on to the general election, it may be harder for her to appeal to a state that is predominately liberal. She campaigned for the nomination on a platform that was pro-gun rights, anti-same-sex marriage and focused on the elimination of the federal deficit.

Her most conservative passion, however, appears to be for the judicial branch. Long worked closely with Judicial Crisis Network to advocate against “liberal” nominees to the bench. She still remains close with her conservative network, receiving an endorsement from the Susan B. Anthony List for her senate campaign back in April. 

“There could not be a more clear contrast between longtime pro-life leader Wendy Long and EMILY’s List poster child Senator Gillibrand,” said Susan B. Anthony List Candidate Fund President Marjorie Dannenfelser. “Wendy understands that the only ‘war on women’ is the one being waged against women of faith and conscience by the Obama administration and their allies in Congress and the abortion lobby. She has boldly called on Senator Gillibrand to end the assault on Life, conscience, and religious liberty.”

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“From her days as a Hill staffer to her time at Americans United for Life and her work on behalf of Supreme Court Justices who practice judicial restraint, Wendy has constantly been engaged in the fight for adherence to the Constitution and the right to Life laid out in the Declaration of Independence,” continued Dannenfelser. “We look forward to having her back on Capitol Hill and adding to the number of pro-life women in the Senate.”

Since winning the primary, though, even the SBA has tried to tone down the anti-choice rhetoric a bit to attempt to make Long appear a bit more moderate. Their statement on Long’s primary win is much less heavy on the anti-choice activism.

“Wendy is a remarkable advocate for women and families and we are thrilled with tonight’s victory,” said Susan B. Anthony List Candidate Fund President Marjorie Dannenfelser. “Not only does she provide an ideal contrast to the pro-abortion leadership of Senator Gillibrand, Wendy is an accomplished leader in her own right. A mother and successful career woman who even went on to clerk for the Supreme Court, Wendy has the broad-based appeal that New York voters are looking for.”

Long, too, is hoping that in the general election, New Yorkers won’t notice her record of attempts to limit the reproductive rights of women. The night she declared her candidacy, when pushed on her history of lobbying for judges who are inclined to fight a woman’s right to choose, Long hedged as much as possible before admitting she believed Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided.

Given her work opposing the appointment of left-leaning judges—which often comes back to Roe v. Wade and the interpretation of a right to privacy—I asked Long about her position on abortion, and the recent debate over contraception.

“It’s not an issue in this campaign, number one,” she said. “There is no issue that’s before us that’s relevant in this campaign.”

When I pressed by pointing out that the issue has very much been in the news recently, and that Gillibrand would almost certainly invite a debate on the topic, Long elaborated a bit.

“I think there is a universal understanding among the legal community that Roe v. Wade was a very flawed legal decision,” she said. “It’s a horrible decision from a constitutional law standpoint, and even liberal law professors will tell you that.

“I believe that the issue of abortion should be left to the people to decide. The Constitution doesn’t mention the word abortion. So I think that’s what it’s really all about. And if Roe v. Wade were overturned tomorrow, nobody would even notice, because the states are legislating their own laws about abortion, completely independent.”

If Roe was an issue that was best left to the states, does that mean the same for birth control? Was Griswold v. Connecticut wrong as well? Long doesn’t speak to that specifically, but has made it clear that she would be another yes vote when it comes to the Blunt amendment allowing employers to opt out of providing birth control coverage in their insurance plans if they find it morally objectionable.

Gillibrand was a strong vote against an employer being allowed to refuse contraceptive coverage under the guise of “moral objection,” stating religious beliefs should not be able to trump a woman’s right to control her own body. During the debate over the Blunt amendment and the White House mandate for no co pay birth control, Gillibrand stated:

“While I remain dumbfounded that in the year 2012 we still have to fight over birth control, I commend the White House for its final rule that adheres to a core principle that the power to decide whether or not each individual woman uses contraception should be with that woman – not with her boss.  This common sense rule will ensure that every single woman in America has access to the full range of preventive health care while respecting the teachings of religious institutions.

“This debate has been just the latest political overreach by politicians to roll back access to birth control and undermine women’s health. It is a fight that continues today in the U.S. Senate with outrageous legislation by Senators Blunt and Rubio that would take away women’s rights by allowing any employer to refuse health care services on religious grounds. We will not stand for these attempts to undermine the ability of women to make their own decisions. If my Republican colleagues want to continue to take this issue head on, we stand ready to oppose any attacks launched against women’s rights and women’s health.”

Meanwhile, Long is actively participating in the “Fornight of Freedom” event sponsored by Catholics who oppose insurance coverage of no co-pay birth control, and claim that the Administration is denying Catholics the right to practice freedom of religion. Long had scathing words for those who would “force” Catholics to support birth control.

“We are in the midst of two weeks in which all of us American Catholics have been called by the U.S. Bishops to pray and work for religious freedom, particularly the freedom of conscience of Catholic educators, health care workers, and others whose First Amendment right to freely exercise their faith has been trampled upon by Senator Gillibrand and President Obama,” said Long.
“I will not let Kirsten Gillibrand off the hook on this one.  Not only is her action harmful to the Catholic Church and practicing Catholics, it is an affront to all free citizens who defend the truths of our Declaration of Independence and Constitution, that all men  are created equal, that every human person is equal in the dignity and value of her human life, and that every citizen in America has an equal right to freely exercise her faith.
“Senator Gillibrand and President Obama think some citizens are more equal than others.  This is clearly wrong.  We Catholics are resolved in these two weeks to defend our commitment to religious freedom and equality for all,” Long said.

Long states that issues of choice and reproductive freedom won’t be something that will matter to the voters in November. “Of course, there’s a certain segment of the far left to whom these kind of issues appeal,” Long said in an interview in May. “Who care about contraception and think that the world revolves around that but I think that mainstream women of both parties and independents are much more concerned about jobs and the economy and taxes and regulation.”

But considering Long’s active participation in limiting a woman’s right to control her own body, both prior to and after pregnancy, voters feel that reproductive health might be a very important issue in November, despite Long’s assurances otherwise.

News Politics

Clinton Campaign Announces Tim Kaine as Pick for Vice President

Ally Boguhn

The prospect of Kaine’s selection has been criticized by some progressives due to his stances on issues including abortion as well as bank and trade regulation.

The Clinton campaign announced Friday that Sen. Tim Kaine (R-VA) has been selected to join Hillary Clinton’s ticket as her vice presidential candidate.

“I’m thrilled to announce my running mate, @TimKaine, a man who’s devoted his life to fighting for others,” said Clinton in a tweet.

“.@TimKaine is a relentless optimist who believes no problem is unsolvable if you put in the work to solve it,” she added.

The prospect of Kaine’s selection has been criticized by some progressives due to his stances on issues including abortion as well as bank and trade regulation.

Kaine signed two letters this week calling for the regulations on banks to be eased, according to a Wednesday report published by the Huffington Post, thereby ”setting himself up as a figure willing to do battle with the progressive wing of the party.”

Charles Chamberlain, executive director of the progressive political action committee Democracy for America, told the New York Times that Kaine’s selection “could be disastrous for our efforts to defeat Donald Trump in the fall” given the senator’s apparent support of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Just before Clinton’s campaign made the official announcement that Kaine had been selected, the senator praised the TPP during an interview with the Intercept, though he signaled he had ultimately not decided how he would vote on the matter.

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Kaine’s record on reproductive rights has also generated controversy as news began to circulate that he was being considered to join Clinton’s ticket. Though Kaine recently argued in favor of providing Planned Parenthood with access to funding to fight the Zika virus and signed on as a co-sponsor of the Women’s Health Protection Act—which would prohibit states and the federal government from enacting restrictions on abortion that aren’t applied to comparable medical services—he has also been vocal about his personal opposition to abortion.

In a June interview on NBC’s Meet the Press, Kaine told host Chuck Todd he was “personally” opposed to abortion. He went on, however, to affirm that he still believed “not just as a matter of politics, but even as a matter of morality, that matters about reproduction and intimacy and relationships and contraception are in the personal realm. They’re moral decisions for individuals to make for themselves. And the last thing we need is government intruding into those personal decisions.”

As Rewire has previously reported, though Kaine may have a 100 percent rating for his time in the Senate from Planned Parenthood Action Fund, the campaign website for his 2005 run for governor of Virginia promised he would “work in good faith to reduce abortions” by enforcing Virginia’s “restrictions on abortion and passing an enforceable ban on partial birth abortion that protects the life and health of the mother.”

As governor, Kaine did support some existing restrictions on abortion, including Virginia’s parental consent law and a so-called informed consent law. He also signed a 2009 measure that created “Choose Life” license plates in the state, and gave a percentage of the proceeds to a crisis pregnancy network.

Regardless of Clinton’s vice president pick, the “center of gravity in the Democratic Party has shifted in a bold, populist, progressive direction,” said Stephanie Taylor, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, in an emailed statement. “It’s now more important than ever that Hillary Clinton run an aggressive campaign on core economic ideas like expanding Social Security, debt-free college, Wall Street reform, and yes, stopping the TPP. It’s the best way to unite the Democratic Party, and stop Republicans from winning over swing voters on bread-and-butter issues.”

News Politics

Former Klan Leader on Senate Run: My Views Are Now the ‘GOP Mainstream’

Teddy Wilson

David Duke has been a fervent support of the Trump campaign, and has posted dozens of messages in support of Trump on Twitter. Duke has often used the hashtag #TrumpWasRight.

David Duke, convicted felon, white supremacist, and former leader of the Ku Klux Klan, announced Friday that he will run for U.S. Senate in Louisiana, Roll Call reported.

Duke said that after a “great outpouring of overwhelming support,” he will campaign for the open Senate seat vacated by former Republican Sen. David Vitter, who lost a bid for Louisiana governor in a runoff election.

Duke’s announcement comes the day after Donald Trump accepted the GOP nomination in the midst of growing tensions over race relations across the country. Trump has been criticized during the campaign for his rhetoric, which, his critics say, mainstreams white nationalism and provokes anxiety and fear among students of color.

His statements about crime and immigration, particularly about immigrants from Mexico and predominantly Muslim countries, have been interpreted by outlets such as the New York Times as speaking to some white supporters’ “deeper and more elaborate bigotry.”

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Duke said in his campaign announcement that he was the first candidate to promote the policy of “America first,” echoing a line from Trump’s nomination acceptance speech on Thursday night.

“The most important difference between our plan and that of our opponents, is that our plan will put America First,” Trump said Thursday night. “As long as we are led by politicians who will not put America First, then we can be assured that other nations will not treat America with respect.”

Duke said his platform has become “the GOP mainstream” and claimed credit for propelling Republicans to control of Congress in 2010. He said he is “overjoyed to see Donald Trump … embrace most of the issues I’ve championed for years.”

Trump in February declined to disavow the support of a white supremacist group and Duke, saying he knew “nothing about David Duke” and knew “nothing about white supremacists.” He later clarified that he rejected their support, and blamed his initial failure to disavow Duke on a “bad earpiece.”

Trump’s candidacy has also brought to light brought many incidents of anti-Semitism, much of which has been directed at journalists and commentators covering the presidential campaign.

Conservative commentator Ben Shapiro wrote in the National Review that Trump’s nomination has “drawn anti-Semites from the woodwork,” and that the Republican nominee has been willing to “channel the support of anti-Semites to his own ends.”

Duke took to Twitter after Trump’s acceptance speech Thursday to express his support for the Republican nominee’s vision for America.

“Great Trump Speech, America First! Stop Wars! Defeat the Corrupt elites! Protect our Borders!, Fair Trade! Couldn’t have said it better!” Duke tweeted.

Duke has been a fervent Trump supporter, and has posted dozens of messages in support of Trump on Twitter. Duke has often used the hashtag #TrumpWasRight.

Duke was elected to the Louisiana house in 1989, serving one term. Duke was the Republican nominee for governor in 1991, and was defeated by Democrat Edwin Edwards.

Duke, who plead guilty in 2002 to mail fraud and tax fraud, has served a year in federal prison.