Push Polls Upset Republicans on Embryonic Stem Cell Research Bill

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 19, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Push Polls Upset Republicans on Embryonic Stem Cell Research Bill Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
May 19, 2005

Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — Republican lawmakers in Congress are upset that a pro-abortion Republican group conducted secret push polls in some districts where the organization hoped to rally more support for a bill that funds embryonic stem cell research.

The Main Street Republican Partnership contracted polling in the district of some pro-life Republican lawmakers in an attempt to show them that voting against the bill may be unpopular back home.

The polls targeted 13 congressional districts, including some lawmakers in vulnerable districts whose next election will be closely contested.

Rep Dave Weldon, a Florida doctor and Republican, said he was upset by the polling, conducted by the Winston Group.

He and other pro-life Republicans held a closed door meeting Wednesday with House GOP leaders to express their frustration. In the end, according to a Congressional Quarterly report, they received an apology from those involved.

Some of the Republican lawmakers targeted in the secret poll were Minority Whip Roy Blunt of Missouri, Heather Wilson or New Mexico, and Joe Barton of Texas.

The fighting over the poll made its way to the House floor when Rep. Rick Renzi, an Arizona Republican who opposes the bill, and Rep. Mark Kirk, an Illinois Republican who backs it, engaged in a heated discussion.

Renzi said he couldn’t believe some lawmakers would poll in their colleague’s district without telling them. Kirk eventually apologized.

“It is unprecedented that Republican members would pay for a push poll in the districts of their Republican colleagues without their knowledge, especially vulnerable members,” Renzi said. “The poor judgment shown in this biased poll reflects squarely on the members who commissioned it, and the unprofessional polling firm who conducted it.”

Kirk, Delaware Rep. Michael Castle, who is one of the lead sponsors of the bill, and New Hampshire Republican Charles Bass unveiled the poll results and were the key lawmakers involved.

Speaker Dennis Hastert says he is sympathetic for the lawmakers targeted in the polling.

"If someone is hunting in your back 40, you want to know about it," he told the Associated Press.

Other members targeted in the polls include Chief Deputy Whip Eric Cantor of Virginia, National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) Chairman Tom Reynolds of New York, Appropriations Committee Chairman Jerry Lewis of California, Reps. Anne Northup of Kentucky, Dave Reichert of Washington, Ed Whitfield of Kentucky, Mike Sodrel of Indiana, and Vito Fossella and Randy Kuhl of New York.

The Main Street Republican Partnership has also launched a $1 million advertising campaign to boost support for the embryonic stem cell research bill.

The legislation, which would overturn President Bush’s August 2001 policy preventing taxpayer funding of any new embryonic stem cell research, is expected to receive a vote next week. Pro-life groups strongly oppose the legislation.