Guess who is having an abortion debate this Mother's Day week!
For years, I've argued that the media have given Democrats a free pass on abortion. In other words, they don't do stories on the divide about abortion in the Democratic Party. Yet I've had conversations with Democrats in Texas who are troubled by Roe v. Wade. They've shared concerns about their party's "purity test" over life. Some have even told me that the issue should have been settled by state legislatures rather than a Supreme Court decision.
My hunch proved right when Wendy Davis was blown away in the 2014 election for Texas governor. To refresh your memory, Miss Davis became the darling of the left when she led a filibuster in Austin, Texas on abortion. She seemed like the perfect candidate – an attractive, articulate lady who would stand up the GOP boys of Texas.
On election night, it was Mr. Abbott winning 59-38%.
It had nothing to do with her gender. It was her radical position on abortion and Hispanic women in Texas:
If these campaigns were trying to prove a point, they certainly proved two important ones: that running a pro-abortion candidate is not a winning formula in the Lone Star State, and that the Latino vote is neither sympathetic to the pro-abortion message nor is it monolithic.
The difficulty of running a pro-abortion candidate was evident early on, when Wendy Davis failed to win several heavily Hispanic counties in the Democratic gubernatorial primary.
Let's go to Omaha, Nebraska, a place where Democrats lost another election this year. In Omaha, you had a pro-life Democrat running for mayor.
Unfortunately, the party base, and donors, could not accept the idea that a young rising star does not support abortion, as news reports tell us:
The National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League slammed the Democratic National Committee for supporting Mello, who voted for abortion restrictions during his eight years in the Nebraska Legislature.
Responding to the criticism, Democratic party chair Tom Perez declared that, "every Democrat, like every American, should support a woman's right to make her own choices." His comment sparked a fierce debate within the party over whether there should be an abortion litmus test, with Mello caught in the middle.
"It's astounding that our party chairman would say pro-life Democrats are not welcome," Nebraska Democratic Party Chairwoman Jane Kleeb told The Associated Press Tuesday as Mello conceded.
A CBS News poll taken in January found 15 percent of Democrats nationally believed that abortion should not be permitted.
Omaha Democratic voter Adam Gouttierre, a 45-year-old business developer, said Democrats in Nebraska didn't have the luxury of being choosy. "Abortion is one item on the menu of progressive concepts," he said, frustrated at the backlash. "You can't have them all!"
At the April 20 rally in Omaha, Sen. Bernie Sanders, the Vermont independent who sought the Democratic presidential nomination last year, endorsed Mello, telling thousands, "Are you ready for a political revolution?"
Mello had cast himself as a next-generation Democrat focused on economic opportunity, while embracing GOP-friendly ideas such as public-private partnerships as a way to solve the city's vexing streets problem. "That's the future of the Democratic Party, in my mind, looking at that pro-growth, progressive, future-focused mentality."
A Mello win would have given Democrats a leg up in Nebraska's 2nd Congressional District, more than two-thirds of which is in Omaha, as the party hopes to claw its way back to the majority next year.
In thanking supporters, Mello hinted he was hardly finished by Tuesday's defeat.
"Our work does not stop tonight," he said. "It only begins."
With all due respect to Mr. Mello, your work ended in Omaha unless someone can persuade the party leadership to open up the tent for pro-life people or others who don't spend their entire day swimming in the sea of identity politics.
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