Threatened by the possibility of Republicans taking control of the U.S. Senate at a time when many states are passing restrictions on abortions, pro-abortion political action group Emily’s List is raising and spending millions to elect and keep pro-choice female candidates in office this mid-term election season.
According to the Associated Press, donors have given over $46 million to a group of political candidates tied to Emily’s List, whose network of committees has raised more than most other outside groups, including establishment GOP group American Crossroads and the Club for Growth.
In July, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg donated $2 million to Women Vote, the super PAC run by Emily’s List, placing his donations to all super PACs this election season at $11 million thus far.
Tallies for state and federal fundraising efforts show that Emily’s List collected nearly $6 million in July and is now investing in 15 different federal races with pro-choice female contenders.
As AP notes, the fate of the Senate during Barack Obama’s final two years in office could depend upon a few female candidates in “tight and costly races.”
According to ABC News, Emily’s List has purchased $1 million of airtime in Atlanta to run attack ads against Republican Senate candidate David Perdue.
The ad buy will be the largest single outside expenditure in the race yet, outdoing even a $920,000 U.S. Chamber of Commerce ad buy in April.
Emily’s List is supporting Democrat Michelle Nunn in the race to fill the seat of retiring Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R). Though ABC News states Nunn is one of the party’s “brighter stars,” she faces a daunting challenge to defeat Perdue in a state that has not voted statewide for a Democrat since 2000. A July CBS/New York Times/YouGov poll found Nunn trailing Perdue by six percentage points.
The ad will carry the “war on women” meme in its focus on a gender pay discrimination suit brought against Perdue’s company Dollar General by female store managers claiming the company underpaid them while Perdue was CEO.
As a result of the 2007 class-action suit, in which 2,100 managers had opted to participate, Dollar General ultimately agreed to pay $19 million as part of a settlement in 2011 – after Perdue’s tenure as CEO had ended.
Emily’s List observes that over 140 Georgia women joined the suit.
“David Perdue owes Georgians answers about his shady business dealings that put his own profits ahead of working women,” EMILY’s List spokeswoman Marcy Stech said. “And he certainly needs to be straightforward with the women of Georgia who deserve to know if he still believes it’s OK to pay women less than men for the same job.”
The pro-abortion group is also supporting Democrat U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R). RealClearPolitics has McConnell up by an average of three points.
The Emily’s List PAC is supporting endangered incumbents like Sen. Kay Hagan (D) in North Carolina and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D) in New Hampshire.
Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) of Louisiana, whose seat is also considered endangered, rejected the aid of Emily’s List, though she has a low 27% pro-life voting record, according to Louisiana Right to Life Federation.
Hagan, Shaheen, Landrieu, Nunn, and Natalie Tennant (D) of West Virginia have even banded together in a joint fundraising committee called Blue Senate 2014, which will bundle donations for the female candidates.
“Bundling” is a method that has worked for Emily’s List in the past.
“Democratic women have been at the forefront on every major issue, and not only are Americans impressed, they are ready to send them reinforcements,” said Emily’s List president Stephanie Schriock. “We continue to see momentum growing for women’s leadership in this country.”
The group is also backing pro-choice women candidates in governor’s races, such as Mary Burke (D) in Wisconsin, and in state legislatures.
However, buoyed by polls that show a plurality of Americans support abortion restrictions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, the pro-life community is fighting back this mid-term election season with endorsements of its own candidates.
As the New York Times reported last month, the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List‘s political action committee is planning to spend $3 million in Arkansas, Louisiana, and North Carolina for television and radio ad buys, three times the amount the group spent in 2012. SBA-List has also opened thirteen field offices in those states to run get-out-the-vote efforts in conservative and rural areas.
Additionally, the pro-life group hired a polling firm to test messages and discovered that Democrat women in Florida shifted their voting preference toward Republican David Jolly when they found out the Democrat candidate for an open House seat, Alex Sink, did not support limits on late-term abortions.
Among SBA-List’s 2014 endorsed candidates are U.S. Senate candidates Terri Lynn Land of Michigan, Thom Tillis of North Carolina, Joni Ernst of Iowa, and congressional candidates Barbara Comstock of Virginia, Darlene Senger of Illinois, Patrice Douglas of Oklahoma, Curt Clawson of Florida, Mimi Walters of California, Ann Wagner of Missouri, and Diane Black of Tennessee. For a complete list of endorsed candidates, visit the SBA-List website.
The pro-life organization is also joining national groups Concerned Women for America, Family Research Council Action, and Students for Life of America in a “Summer of Life” tour to bring awareness to the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act that would restrict abortions after five months of pregnancy. The bill, which has 40 co-sponsors, is being blocked in the Senate by Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV). The U.S. House passed companion legislation in June of last year by a vote of 228-196.