National political debate during the month of May has been dominated by the leak early this month of a draft U.S. Supreme Court opinion that would, if adopted, overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey decisions guaranteeing abortion rights to all Americans. The overturn of Roe would result in the immediate criminalization of abortion in over 20 states, and restrictions on abortion being aggressively passed by conservative state legislatures elsewhere are already causing a surge in patients coming to Colorado for care.
In Colorado, which has been a stronghold for abortion rights since before Roe, Republicans have historically paid dearly at the ballot for the obsession among part of their coalition for attacking abortion rights. In years where abortion ban ballot measures have appeared on the state ballot they have gone down in flames, and are generally considered to have done collateral damage to Republican candidates. The political cognitive dissonance with respect to abortion rights peaked in 2014 when Cory Gardner narrowly won despite a toxic anti-abortion record that Gardner succeeded in downplaying.
And then Cory Gardner helped appoint three conservative Supreme Court Justices in Donald Trump’s four years, flipping the court to its current configuration and proving the worst fears of Gardner’s 2014 opponents. In 2022, with that experience seared into the memory of a generation of Colorado Democrats, Gardner’s much-analyzed “Jedi Mind Trick” on abortion in 2014 would impossible to pull off today.
Especially, as the Daily Beast’s Sam Brodey reports in a fascinating look at the re-energized anti-abortion right, with so many Republicans in Colorado and across the nation throwing caution to the wind and gleefully embracing the coming new reality most Americans are dreading:
Although Republicans had been working toward this moment for decades, many of them didn’t want to talk about it. Tim Recihert wasn’t one of them.
Reichert, a leading candidate in Colorado’s 7th District, didn’t just want to talk about abortion on May 9; he wanted to publicly push back on GOP campaign brass for trying to change the subject…
During the debate in the small mountain town of Bailey, he argued this moment presents an “incredible opportunity” for the GOP to explain why their anti-abortion position makes it the “natural home” for women and for “the marginalized, the poor, and the smallest among us.”
Republican CD-7 candidate Tim Reichert is a prime example of an ideologue who doesn’t want to hear from strategists and consultants who argue that while anti-abortion politics play fine with Republican primary voters, the issue becomes a massive liability for Republicans who actually want to win over a majority of general election voters in November. The prospect of Republicans actually achieving their long-sought goal of overturning Roe has infused the anti-abortion wing of the party with momentum completely heedless to the advice of smart politicos.
“Every abortion feeds the demonic and thereby contributes directly to the demise of the church, the demise of America and the demise of the West,” Reichert said. “Every single abortion is not just a tragic loss with two victims… It is much more than that—it’s fuel. Fuel for the demonic, because it is the sacrifice of a child at the altar of Baal.”
And as we’ve covered in depth, Tim Reichert doesn’t screw around with his beliefs.
“Its no secret that Tim is pro-life as it’s part of his Catholic faith and lived experience. He’s been very transparent about his position,” said campaign spokesperson Audrey Hudson. “This election is about economics and inflation that is crushing the middle class.”
Hudson argued that “the only people who are talking about abortion as a campaign issue” are Reichert’s Democratic rivals…
The problem is that Reichert himself, the leading Republican candidates in Colorado’s new CD-8, and Republicans up and down the ballot, have all made a liar of this spokesperson. CD-8 candidates are tripping over each other to prove to primary voters in that tightly competitive district they are the most anti-abortion candidate. Both Republican candidates in Colorado’s Republican primary for governor have vowed to roll back the state’s new law codifying abortion rights. In the U.S. Senate primary, fallback establishment pick Joe O’Dea has likewise condemned Colorado’s new abortion statute, and promised to appoint conservative federal judges if elected. If O’Dea survives the June 28th primary he’s widely expected to attempt a pivot on the issue, but he’s already given abortion rights supporters plenty of justification to not give him the benefit of the doubt Cory Gardner received.
The repeal of Roe v. Wade is such a longstanding political objective of the right that it’s silly for them to attempt to downplay it in states where that makes for problematic politics. It was far safer and more politically beneficial to Republicans for Roe’s repeal to remain an unfulfilled goal, because the ensuing backlash against this massive rollback of personal freedom could itself be generationally significant. The throwback social agenda so many moderates and independents thought they could sidestep in order to enjoy tax cuts and deregulation defines the GOP now, and there’s no pretending otherwise.
There will be serious consequences.