The National Abortion And Reproductive Rights Action League’s political action committee in Washington has distributed a late mailer before Tuesday’s primary, reminding voters in Tacoma’s 27th Legislative District that Democrat Jeannie Darneille is the only pro-choice candidate in the district’s state senate race.
The mailer, which includes Darneille’s photo next to that of Washington’s Democratic candidate for governor, Jay Inslee, lists NARAL’s 10-candidate slate of preferences in legislative, statewide and federal races.
On the flip side, two concerned-looking 20-something women stare out from the mailer next to the plea: ”Vote Pro Choice, because we need leaders we can trust to protect access to contraception, cancer screenings, and the full range of reproductive health care.”
The mailer also contains part of a Seattle Times’ editorial headlined, “The war on women might be settled at the ballot box,” and highlights sections from the editorial about a “ridiculous shadow war on women and their health care rights…”
Alison Mondi, public policy and communications director for the NARAL Pro-Choice Washington PAC, told me today her group sent the mailers Thursday to “pro-choice voters” throughout Tacoma’s 27th Legislative District. Without naming Darneille’s opponent, Mondi said the fliers were sent as “a reminder” of the stark difference between the state House representative and the race’s other Democrat, Tacoma trial lawyer Jack Connelly.
“We want to make sure pro-choice voters know she’s the only candidate we can count on when it comes to women’s health issues,” Mondi said.
In all, NARAL’s mailers cost about $4,178, according to a campaign finance report. But only a portion of that — about $552 — was attributed to Darneille’s campaign, as other candidates also benefited.
The PAC’s independent expenditure report showed up on the Public Disclosure Commission’s website today — within the 24-hour reporting deadline under Washington’s campaign finance law.
NARAL’s foray into Tacoma’s senate race wasn’t unexpected. During the primary campaign, Darneille and Connelly’s opposing positions on abortion have remained relatively quiet, but that issue — as well as same-sex marriage — has percolated behind the scenes. Darneille supports both abortion rights and same-sex marriage, Connelly does not.
Earlier this year, both Darneille and Connelly sought endorsements from the 27th District Democrats. The district’s party, which sometimes gives dual endorsements, only gave Darneille the nod in the senate race. Several party members later cited Connelly’s conservative positions on women’s choice and same sex-marriage issues as the deciding factor.
Connelly has sought to confront the matter before it becomes a campaign issue. In mailers and on his campaign website, he has carefully staked out his positions.
“It’s no secret, I am an Irish Catholic and personally opposed to abortion,” he said in one recent mailer. “On this issue, Washington state supports a woman’s right to choose. I am committed to the health and well-being of women, and to our children’s health…”
In the same mailer, Connelly noted that “an initiative that would invalidate the new (same sex marriage) law” passed by Washington’s Legislature last session “will be on the ballot this fall” (Actually, it’s not an initiative, and Referendum 74 asks voters whether to “approve” or “reject” the law passed by lawmakers).
“While I favor traditional marriage,” Connelly’s mailer added, “I don’t believe that any person should be discriminated against or denigrated. The people of this state will decide this fundamental issue. As your Senator, I will work to support families and children whichever way the vote goes.”
Several 27th District Democrat party activists have said they expect outside advocacy groups, including NARAL and Equal Rights Washington, to play a bigger part in Tacoma’s senate race when the campaign moves toward the general election.
Darneille might need the help. Connelly’s largely self-funded campaign has raised nearly $467,500, and already spent $422,000. Most of the campaign’s money — $396,100 — has come straight out of the wealthy lawyer’s own pockets, records show.
Meantime, Darneille has raised about $142,500, so far spending about $85,700 of it. When taking Connelly’s own money out of the mix, Darneille has actually outraised him by about $97,000, records show.