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GOP candidate for D.C. delegate is on her own
No party backing for staunch pro-life stance
You won’t find her mentioned on the D.C. Republican website, but activist Missy Reilly Smith constitutes a kind of one-woman “tea party” movement in the liberal bastion that is the nation’s capital.
The staunch pro-lifer, running a long-shot campaign against longtime Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, a Democrat, is trying to wake up the city’s lethargic GOP and push the abortion issue to the front of the party’s agenda with new, graphic ads airing this week.
Mrs. Smith, who worked in real estate sales and ran an anti-abortion advocacy group, is challenging a popular liberal incumbent who has defeated all comers since 1990. In 2008, for example, Mrs. Norton faced no Republican challenger and won more than 92 percent of the vote in the general election.
Mrs. Smith acknowledged a steep uphill climb, with only an estimated 30,000 registered Republicans in the city versus more than 336,000 registered Democrats. But she said the District’s Republicans “blew me off” because of her conservative platform, not the voter registration numbers.
Mrs. Smith said her critics have miscast her as a one-issue candidate because of her uncompromising stands against abortion, which she called “murder,” and homosexuality, which she called an “abomination.” Fellow Republicans are simply refusing to pay heed to America’s Judeo-Christian morals and “Republican principles,” she said.
Mrs. Smith’s platform rests on many of the issues highlighted by the tea party movement — limited government, support for the military, school vouchers and “pro-family” values.
While embraced by tea party enthusiasts across the country in growing numbers, those positions run contrary to the platforms of many D.C. GOP and Democratic candidates alike.
Mrs. Norton and most of the Republicans running in the Nov. 2 general election support gay rights. Mrs. Norton also is pro-choice and opposes gun rights and federal funding of the city’s school voucher program.
Republican D.C. Council candidate Tim Day said the District’s electoral landscape has to be prepared before conservatives can take on such hot-button issues as abortion.
Mr. Day, who is trying to unseat Democratic incumbent Harry Thomas Jr. in Ward 5, said the GOP’s strategy is to get non-Republicans in the District used to the idea of voting for Republicans, who trail both Democrats and independents on voter registration rolls.
“Yes, [abortion] is something that we should talk about, but it’s an area where [voters] go far to the left or far to the right,” he said. Abortion “is an issue we have skirted because it needs a well-thought-out plan.”
“We’re concentrating our efforts on the four council races,” he said. “We are not coordinating” with Mrs. Smith’s campaign.
But Mrs. Smith accused city Republicans are taking on the habits of Democrats: “skirting social issues” and “taking the black vote for granted.”
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About the Author
Award-winning opinion writer Deborah Simmons is a senior correspondent who reports on City Hall and writes about education, culture, sports and family-related topics. Mrs. Simmons has worked at several newspapers, and since joining The Washington Times in 1985, has served as editorial-page editor and features editor and on the metro desk. She has taught copy editing at the University of ...
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