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.”
“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.