News Politics

Montana Democrats Pick Amanda Curtis for U.S. Senate Nominee

Teddy Wilson

Democratic delegates voted for Rep. Amanda Curtis over rancher Dirk Adams during a special convention held Saturday, four days before the August 20 deadline for the party to choose a candidate to appear on the November ballot.

Following incumbent Democratic Sen. John Walsh’s decision to withdraw his bid for re-election, the Montana Democratic Party selected state Rep. Amanda Curtis (D-Butte) as its nominee for U.S. Senate.

Democratic delegates voted for Curtis over rancher Dirk Adams during a special convention held Saturday, four days before the August 20 deadline for the party to choose a candidate to appear on the November ballot. Curtis received 64 percent of the 128 delegate votes cast.

Walsh came under heavy criticism after it was alleged that he plagiarized parts of a paper he wrote while pursuing a master’s degree at the U.S. Army War College. After the New York Times reported on similarities between his paper and another document authored by a scholar at Harvard, the college opened an investigation.

Walsh was appointed by Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock earlier this year to replace outgoing Sen. Max Baucus (D), who was tapped to serve as the U.S. ambassador to China.

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A joint statement by NARAL Pro-Choice America and NARAL Pro-Choice Montana said that Curtis’ nomination answered an “urgent call” from those who “demand a representative who will fight for the comprehensive health care to which they are entitled.”

NARAL Pro-Choice Montana Executive Director Maggie Moran said that Curtis was a strong choice because of her support for reproductive rights. “Curtis has demonstrated a commitment to women’s health and personal privacy at the state level,” said Moran. “Women will make the difference in this election, and today’s decision demonstrates that the Montana Democratic Party recognizes and respects this fact.”

Curtis was elected to the Montana House of Representatives in 2012, and was not seeking re-election in the upcoming race. However, she did express interest in a possible run for state senate in 2016.

Curtis will face U.S. Rep. Steve Daines (R-Montana at Large) in the general election. Elected in 2012, Daines has established an anti-choice voting record in his single term in the House. Daines co-sponsored and voted in favor of bills that would ban public funding of abortion care and ban abortion after 20 weeks’ gestation.

Daines is also a co-sponsor of so-called personhood legislation that would give constitutional rights to fertilized eggs, embryos, fetuses, and clones. Before his departure from the campaign, Walsh had released an ad criticizing Daines for his support of the legislation.

Despite having no campaign structure in place and no campaign funds, Curtis says she has a positive view of the possibilities of her campaign. “The national media and the political class have already said that this race is over,” Curtis told the Missoulian. “But I’ve got a secret: None of those folks got to vote in the state of Montana. If we win here in Montana — outspent, outgunned in a race where we were left for dead — it will send a powerful message to Washington, D.C. that we want change.”

News Politics

Colorado Republicans Pick Anti-Choice County Commissioner for U.S. Senate Race

Jason Salzman

Darryl Glenn, an anti-choice Colorado Springs County Commissioner, defeated a pro-choice GOP rival and three other anti-choice Republicans in the race to take on pro-choice Sen. Michael Bennet in November.

In Colorado’s Republican senatorial primary Tuesday, Darryl Glenn, a conservative county commissioner from Colorado Springs, scored a decisive victory over Jack Graham, a former Colorado State University official, who stood out from the GOP field of five candidates for his atypical pro-choice stance.

Glenn received about 38 percent of the primary vote versus nearly 25 percent for Graham, who finished second.

Glenn made no secret of his anti-choice stance during the primary election, describing himself in interviews as an “unapologetic Christian, constitutional conservative” and supporting “personhood” rights for fertilized human eggs (zygotes), a stance that could outlaw abortion and many forms of contraception.

Consistent with this, Glenn is also opposed to the Roe v. Wade decision.

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Glenn frequently brought up his faith in interviews. For example, Glenn broke out from his Republican rivals at the GOP state convention in April, where he gave an impassioned speech during which he discussed Planned Parenthood and opposing abortion ​before delegates voted him on to the GOP primary ballot.

Asked about the speech by conservative radio host Richard Randall, Glenn said, “Well, that wasn’t me. That was the Holy Spirit coming through, just speaking the truth.”

Seriously?” replied the KVOR radio host.

Absolutely,” Glenn replied on air. “This campaign has always been about honoring and serving God and stepping up and doing the right thing.”

Political observers say Glenn’s position on abortion, coupled with his other conservative stances and his promise never to compromise, spell trouble for him in November’s general election against Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet.

“Glenn’s stance on abortion isn’t necessarily disqualifying,” Jennifer Duffy, senior editor of the Cook Political Report, which offers non-partisan election analysis, in Washington D.C., told Rewire via email. “Colorado has sent pro-life Republicans to the Senate. But, the cumulative effect of all Glenn’s conservative positions on social, economic, and foreign policy, as well as his association with Tea Party-affiliated groups and his lack of funding make it very, very difficult to see a path to victory for him.”

In the final weeks of the primary, Glenn was supported by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

Glenn’s ties to the right wing of the Republican Party drew criticism during the campaign from GOP Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. He criticized Glenn for accepting the endorsement of the Senate Conservatives Fund, which gave Glenn $500,000.

Duffy doesn’t expect the race to be “very competitive,” an observation that aligns with the “Democrat favored” assessment of the race by the Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report. Last year, Bennet was widely considered one of only two vulnerable U.S. Senate Democrats.

“Darryl Glenn’s support for ‘personhood’ puts him on the wrong side of Colorado voters’ values, including many pro-choice Republicans and unaffiliated voters,” said Karen Middleton, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado, in an email to Rewire. “Support for reproductive freedom crosses party lines in Colorado, as demonstrated by the landslide losses by three ‘personhood’ ballot measures. Glenn’s chances of beating pro-choice champion Michael Bennet were already slim. This puts it closer to none.”

Glenn did not immediately return a call for comment.

In 2014, U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO), who is anti-choice, defeated pro-choice Democratic Sen. Mark Udall, who hammered Gardner on his abortion stance throughout the campaign. 

Gardner threw his support behind Glenn Wednesday, reportedly saying to Roll Call that Glenn has fundraising challenges ahead of him but that he’s “winning when nobody expected him to.” And that, Gardner was quoted as saying, “bodes well for November.”

News Politics

Staunchly Anti-Choice Lawmaker to Run for U.S. Senate in Colorado

Jason Salzman

Colorado state Sen. Tim Neville, who last year introduced a bill requiring a doctor to perform a vaginal ultrasound on a woman seeking an abortion, is a leading GOP contender so far to take on pro-choice Sen. Michael Bennet next year.

Colorado Republicans are in the national spotlight as they choose a candidate to take on pro-choice Sen. Michael Bennet, one of the few Democratic U.S. senators deemed vulnerable in next year’s election.

But the state GOP has had difficulty fielding a candidate, with leading prospects, such as anti-choice Rep. Mike Coffman of Aurora, Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler, and state Sen. Ellen Roberts of Durango, withdrawing their names from consideration.

A leading GOP candidate who’s entered the race, state Sen. Tim Neville, is considered by observers to be one of Colorado’s most conservative state senators, and he makes no effort to conceal his staunch anti-choice positions.

Neville recently sponsored a bill that would have forced a woman to wait 24 hours and have a vaginal ultrasound prior to having an abortion.

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Neville drew fire from Planned Parenthood Votes Colorado last week, when he officially entered the U.S. Senate race.

“All of Tim Neville’s anti-choice proposals have had one goal—putting up barriers for Colorado women seeking abortion care,” said Cathy Alderman, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood Votes Colorado, which included Neville earlier this year in its Colorado Women’s Health Wall of Shame. “Neville is well-known for being out of step with Coloradans’ core values, including the right to make personal and private decisions about our own health care.”

Colorado voters have repeatedly rejected so-called personhood ballot initiatives pushed by anti-choice lawmakers across the state. “Personhood” laws define life as beginning at fertilization and ban all abortion or other procedures that would destroy a zygote or fetus prior to birth.

“We’re not going to shy away from issues, whether it be issues we brought up last year in the Parent’s Bill of Rights, issues that are important to life,” Neville told Rocky Mountain Community Radio’s Bente Birkeland last week. “We don’t feel we need to shy away from those. We need to actually have the honest debates there. And we feel the American people are ready to have those debates too.”

Birkeland reported that Steve House, Colorado’s Republican Party chair, refused to label the House as “too far to the right” to win in the swing state of Colorado, but that Democrats believe he’s too conservative for the purple state.

Other Republicans who already are in the U.S. Senate race, but with a lower profile than Neville, include Robert Blaha, a businessman, El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn, and former Parker Mayor Greg Lopez. Attorney Dan Caplis is reportedly considering about a run, as is Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith.