The venerable pro-life group Susan B. Anthony List on Thursday bestowed endorsements on eight Republican women running for Congress.
Conservative candidates have been aggressively wooing the group’s coveted stamp of approval, a sure sign that the abortion fight and culture wars remain a stark battle line in the 2020 elections.
The newly endorsed candidates included a woman challenging Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairwoman Cheri Bustos, women looking to replace retiring GOP Reps. Martha Roby of Alabama and Kenny Marchant of Texas, and female candidates for five other districts that Democrats flipped from red to blue in the 2018 election.
SBA List’s support not only serves as a signal to pro-life voters but also comes with an army of activists and a sizable financial boost. The group has announced its intention to spend $41 million in the 2020 election cycle, up from $28 million in 2018. Its 1,100 members are planning to visit 4 million voters nationwide before the November elections, which is up from 800 members reaching 1.4 million voters in 2016.
The House candidates SBA List is supporting are Jessica Taylor in Alabama’s 2nd Congressional District, Michelle Steel in California’s 48th, Irina Vilariño in Florida’s 26th, Maria Salazar in Florida’s 27th, Yvette Herrell in New Mexico’s 2nd, Claudia Tenney in New York’s 22nd, Beth Van Duyne in Texas’ 24th, and Esther Joy King in Illinois’ 17th Congressional District.
Planned Parenthood, the chief pro-choice advocacy group, also has a potent arsenal to support its candidates, including plans to invest at least $45 million in 2020 battleground states.
Abortion politics will demand attention in 2020 campaigns as the Supreme Court, White House and Congress are all expected to wrestle with the hot-button issue before the November election.
The success of SBA List’s boots-on-the-ground operation has attracted candidates eager to win its support. Sen.-designate Kelly Loeffler, appointed to replace Georgia’s retiring Sen. Johnny Isakson, traveled to Washington and attended the SBA List’s Christmas party in search of support just before the holiday.
Pro-life and conservative groups were vocally skeptical of Ms. Loeffler’s selection, and SBA List previously said that Ms. Loeffler’s position on the board of Grady Memorial Hospital, which formerly provided abortions, should “disqualify” her from serving in the Senate.
Ms. Loeffler is preparing to run to keep the seat in November and after the SBA List’s holiday gathering, Ms. Loeffler tweeted that she appreciated the invitation to attend.
“I look forward to working together [with SBA List] to advance legislation that protects the unborn & promotes a culture of life in America,” Ms. Loeffler tweeted.
The politics of abortion looks to be weighing heavily on the minds of incumbents as well. Thirty-nine Republican senators and 168 House Members, including two Democratic representatives, signed an amicus brief Thursday urging the Supreme Court to reconsider Roe v. Wade and whether that decision legalizing abortion should be overruled.
The Democrats who broke with their party over abortion include Reps. Collin Peterson of Minnesota and Dan Lipinski of Illinois. SBA List sent 70 canvassers to Mr. Lipinski’s district to help him win the election in 2018 and reach 17,000 Democrats who were sympathetic to his pro-life message.
Planned Parenthood noticed Mr. Lipinski’s signature and those of other pro-life candidates running for office on Thursday’s brief to the Supreme Court.
“Today’s amicus brief, signed by members of Congress like Rep. Lipinski and Senators [Thom] Tillis, [Joni] Ernst, and [John] Cornyn, goes against the will of the people,” said Samuel Lau, Planned Parenthood Votes spokesman, in a statement. “These anti-abortion politicians are making it very clear — they want the Supreme Court to effectively ban abortion, precedent be damned.”
Mr. Lau added, “To the members of Congress who signed on to this amicus brief: Brace yourselves for the consequences you will face at the ballot box in November.”