In important elections where both viable candidates are pro-choice yet one pro-choice candidate favors certain prolife legislation and the other is opposed to any kind of prolife legislation, what should a prolife group do? Should prolifers work to help elect a pro-choice candidate who will sign prolife legislation, try to elect an unelectable prolife candidate or do nothing in that election?
That seems to be situation Oregon Right to Life found itself faced with after its candidate, Republican Kevin Mannix, lost in the primary.
On Saturday, the Oregonian reported that Oregon Right to Life was "recommending" that it's members vote for Ron Saxton, a pro-choice Republican, because he is willing to sign various pieces of prolife laws like parental consent, informed consent, banning tax-funded abortions, etc. even though he isn't in favor of banning abortion. This recommendation stops short of an official endorsement and they say they won't give any money to Saxton. The current governor of Oregon, Ted Kulongoski, is endorsed by Oregon's pro-choice groups and is running for re-election.
Judie Brown from the American Life League is miffed and thinks Oregon Right to Life's actions prove that "electing Republicans has become the guiding principle in their game."
While I think Judie's response is obviously inaccurate and harsh, since the obvious motive by ORTL isn't merely to elect a Republican but to elect someone (regardless of party) who might be willing to sign their legislation even if that person isn't prolife, I still wonder if this is a good idea or not.
Does this kind of move send the wrong signal to politicians in Oregon? Basically, telling politicians from Oregon that ORTL will still "recommend" you as long as you'd be in favor of prolife legislation even though you're not prolife? I think it's a dangerous line to tread as the short term hope of electing a candidate favorable to basic prolife legislation might have long term consequences.
Considering the current leading candidates for the presidential nomination at this point (which I know means very little now), I'm somewhat concerned that prolifers and prolife organizations across the country might be faced with a similar dilemma in 2008. What will we do if someone like John McCain, who is against abortion yet in favor of the increased federal funding of embryonic stem cell research, is nominated?
Or for example, in Michigan, one former Republican candidate for U.S. Senate has recently sent a letter to Michigan House members who are supporting Mitt Romney's PAC requesting they reconsider their support for Romney because of past pro-choice statements by Romney. In response, Ronna Romney, another former candidate for U.S. Senate from Michigan who was once married to Mitt's brother sent a long letter to Michigan Republican activists discussing Romney's change of heart to the prolife side in 2003.
What kind of risks can prolifers take with recommending candidates who aren't 100% and is it possible to engage in these risks without being identified as Republican stooges?