by Steven Ertelt
January 20, 2005
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — Abortion advocate JoAnn Davidson was selected to become the next co-chairman of the national Republican Party, but only after she capitulated to demands that she not use her position to promote abortion.
Davidson, a former speaker of the Ohio State House, drew significant opposition from pro-life advocates in the days leading up to Wednesday’s vote.
Opponents pointed out that she has been a board member of the pro-abortion Republicans for Choice group since its inception in 1990. The group backs pro-abortion GOP candidates for elected office and has lobbied to change the Republican Party platform, which has, since the Roe v. Wade decision, supported a human life amendment to the Constitution.
The 165-member Republican National Committee backed Davidson for the number two post, but only after she promised to publicly support all of the policies of President Bush, which would include his administration’s position opposing abortion.
Incoming chairman Ken Mehlman directed a behind-the-scenes effort, according to a Washington Post report, to secure Davidson’s victory.
Mehlman met with numerous pro-life members on the committee who had considered promoting an alternative candidate.
The arm twisting was necessary, the Post reported, because committee members were "being deluged" with anti-Davidson phone calls and emails from pro-life Republicans after news reports issued by LifeNews.com and other.
Davidson herself met with many dissident party leaders and also promised not to speak at an fund-raising or organizing events sponsored by groups backing abortion. She also promised to support retaining the current pro-life plank in the party platform.
Brian Jones, a Republican Party spokesman, told the New York Times before the vote that Mehlman selected Davidson based on her success in helping President Bush win Ohio and succeed in his re-election campaign.
"Joann Davidson is one of the top grassroots activists and leaders in the entire country, and she helped with the historic effort in Ohio that was key to the president’s victory," he said. "That is why she is someone who is ideal for this position."
Patricia Harrison, the co-chairman of the Republican Party during the 2000 election, also backed abortion.
The co-chairman often speaks for the party in the media, but Mehlman will be the most frequent face of the Republican Party during his tenure.