February 16, 2005


For Democrats, Rethinking Abortion Runs Risks (DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK, 2/16/05, NY Times)

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has actively recruited at least two abortion opponents to run for the Senate in 2006. And perhaps most symbolically, the party is seeking to enlist Robert P. Casey Jr., Pennsylvania's treasurer, to challenge Senator Rick Santorum, a stalwart foe of abortion rights.

Mr. Casey is the son of former Gov. Bob Casey, a hero to abortion opponents inside and outside the Democratic Party. After trying unsuccessfully to have the party's 1992 platform state that Democrats did not support "abortion on demand," Governor Casey denounced the party for refusing to let him speak at its convention in New York on behalf of other Democrats who shared his views.

In contrast, the younger Mr. Casey said that Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York, chairman of the party's senatorial campaign committee, had encouraged him to run as an opponent of abortion rights.

"He was very welcoming and very candid about the party's need to speak for a broad section of Americans," Mr. Casey said in an interview.

But Mr. Schumer's overture has roiled party loyalists who remain unyielding in their support for abortion rights, exposing a deepening rift in the party. Abortion rights groups that are major financial donors to Democratic campaigns say they may fight Mr. Casey in a primary with a candidate who shares their beliefs.

Karen White, political director of Emily's List, a group that raises money for female candidates who support abortion rights, said the group was "very excited" about possibly backing an abortion rights supporter, Barbara Hafer, a former Pennsylvania treasurer.

Emily's List and other groups have also sounded alarms about the direction the party leadership is taking over all. During the search for a national Democratic chairman, Ms. White posted a rallying cry on the group's Web site: "We fought like mad to beat back the Republicans. Little did we know that we would have just as much to fear from some within the Democratic Party who seem to be using choice as a scapegoat for our top-of-the-ticket losses."

Emily's List is circulating a study it commissioned by the pollster Mark Mellman stating that abortion "was not a factor in voters' decision-making" in the November elections.

Ann Stone, president of Republicans for Choice, an abortion rights group, said her organization's members had not been re-examining their positions, as their Democratic counterparts have. Ms. Stone added a cautionary note that cut across each party's support base.

"The Democrats have to be very careful about this because they could end up undercutting themselves with the donor base," Ms. Stone said. "The pro-choice donors in both parties tend to be the more wealthy."

It's easy enough to see the Bike Path Left either taking over the Democratic Party completely and making it a lifestyle party or leaving for the Green Party.

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 16, 2005 8:04 AM

Interesting times we live in.

Posted by: AllenS at February 16, 2005 8:32 AM

They will rule all they survey when standing on a trash can in front of Zabars.

Posted by: Luciferous at February 16, 2005 4:05 PM

A 3 party system by the 2020 Presidential election: Green Party; New Democratic Party; Republican Party.

Posted by: Dave W. at February 16, 2005 11:53 PM