With a divided legislature, the Republican governor has faced obstacles in passing some of his top priorities, including a proposal to ban abortion for 15 weeks. Democrats in the state Senate blocked that effort earlier this year, something they will likely lean heavily on in November.
“The DLCC gave Republicans a reality check by defending abortion access and creating a winning plan for state Democrats,” a Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee memo says.
Abortion remains a central issue in many of Tuesday’s races, most notably the Democratic primary for the state’s 13th Senate District between state Sen. Joe Morrissey, a historic and polarizing figure in Virginia politics, and his challenger, he exdel. Lashrecse Aird. He describes himself as a «pro-life» Democrat, something Aird has made sure to emphasize during his campaign. Morrissey has backed down, saying that Aird has «misrepresented his position on abortion” and he “supports restricting the procedure to the point where the fetus may feel pain.”
Prominent Democrats have abandoned Morrissey. aird has raised in sponsorships of all female Democratic state senators, as well as a majority of Democrats in Virginia’s congressional delegation. Abortion rights groups have also entered the contest in support of Aird, including EMILY’s List and NARAL Pro-Choice America.
The district is leaning toward blue, and the victor of the primary has a smooth path to victory in November.
Elsewhere in the state, Democrats hope abortion will drive out voters once again, as it has in previous elections. A special election earlier this year drew national dollars to boost now-state Sen. Aaron Rouse, a Democrat who campaigned on a pro-choice platform. Democratic opponents are fighting with each other about abortion in the primary, showing the prominence of the issue, despite party members largely holding the same stance.
Even Republicans are talking about abortion, a rarity for party members, many of whom remain silent on the issue or fight it in a general election. Republican State Sen. Siobhan Dunnavant doesn’t face a primary contender, but she has a difficult re-election ahead of her after redistricting has her running in District 16, a seat that leans Democratic. in an ad, outlines his position on abortion, saying that it should remain legal up to 15 weeks and that there should be «reasonable exceptions for rape, incest, life of the mother, and serious fetal anomalies.» Right now, abortion is legal in Virginia through the third trimester, with an exception in the third trimester if there is danger to the life of the mother.
“What I cannot accept is the current Virginia law that allows abortion up to the moment of birth,” Dunnavant, an OB/GYN, says in the ad. “As a doctor, I know this is unreasonable. It’s unnecessary, extreme and heartbreaking.»
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A version of this initially appeared in the June 20 issue of Weekly Score.