Four states held Primary Elections on Tuesday night. The biggest story — by far — was the outcome of a hotly-contested abortion rights measure in Kansas. As Jennifer Rubin writes for The Washington Post:
A political earthquake shook Kansas on Tuesday. Voters in the deep-red state turned out in droves to reject a measure that would have taken abortion protection out of the state constitution. With more than 90 percent of the vote reported, the “no” vote (which would preserve abortion access) led by nearly 20 points as of Wednesday morning…
…This is the first concrete evidence of a major backlash against the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision. Forced-birth advocates in Kansas thought that by putting the measure on a primary ballot, for which turnout is historically lower, conservative voters could dominate. Instead, they drove Democrats and a lot of pro-choice independents and Republicans who might not otherwise vote to the polls.
Republicans in other states should pay attention to Tuesday’s results. [Pols emphasis]
“As somebody who supports the Dobbs decision returning this back to the states to make a decision…”
— Republican Attorney General candidate John Kellner (8/2/22)
That last line is an apt warning, but for one Republican politician in Colorado, it came just a few hours too late. During a candidate forum at Community College of Aurora on Tuesday evening, Republican Attorney General candidate John Kellner all but assured that he will not defeat incumbent Democrat Phil Weiser by announcing that he SUPPORTS the June Supreme Court ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization that essentially overturned Roe v. Wade and the Constitutional right to an abortion in the United States.
Kellner bombed on two separate questions regarding abortion rights, both of which you can see in the clips below. We’ve transcribed the quotes as well.
First up, here’s Kellner responding to a question about the Reproductive Health Equity Act (RHEA) approved by the Colorado legislature last Spring:
KELLNER: So I understand that people have a lot of concerns after the Dobbs decision, especially in Colorado. You know, wondering what is the future of the Reproductive Health Equity Act, and what does that mean for people in our state?
As somebody who has given this a lot of thought, I understand that people have very deeply-held emotions and very personal opinions about this that are oftentimes rooted in their religion, their sense of morality…very personal decisions that they may have to make.
And as somebody who supports the Dobbs decision returning this back to the states to make a decision, [Pols emphasis] it’s also important to recognize that Colorado, and its legislature, has spoken on the issue. And frankly, the people have spoken on this issue multiple times at the ballot box as well.
Kellner goes on to claim that he would support RHEA as Attorney General, but the damage is already done by that point. Endorsing Dobbs is supporting a judicial doctrine, which is a much bigger deal for a candidate for Attorney General. It’s a statement in support of right-wing judicial activism and overturning 50 years of precedent. Or, more simply, it’s expressing a position that is completely at odds with the opinion of the majority of Colorado voters.
Later in Tuesday’s forum, Kellner failed to even come close to answering a ‘Yes or No’ question about abortion rights:
QUESTION: Do you support a woman’s right to choose over her reproductive rights?
WEISER: Yes. The Dobbs decision was wrongly decided.
KELLNER: I don’t think I can give you a bumper sticker answer for this. It is just simply, I think like most Americans, too nuanced of a position to be able to tell you a yes or no answer to that. [Pols emphasis]
[Audience murmurs. One unidentified woman groans, ‘Oh, come on.’]
MODERATOR: As it’s a lightning round, let’s move forward. We have an answer.
If you can’t answer ‘Yes’ to a question about whether you support a woman’s right to choose…then your answer is ‘No.’ Period. This isn’t complicated.
Kellner had several other questionable answers on Tuesday about issues such as gun violence (he opposes an assault weapons ban) and school vouchers (he supports vouchers for religious schools). But those answers are all secondary to Kellner expressing his support for overturning Roe v. Wade literally on the same night that voters in ultra-conservative Kansas overwhelmingly rejected a ballot measure seeking to restrict abortion rights.
There is often a seminal moment in high-profile political campaigns in which the race permanently shifts to one side or another. Tuesday was that moment in the race for Attorney General.