by Steven Ertelt
August 24, 2006
Charleston, WV (LifeNews.com) — The state’s pro-life group West Virginians for Life has endorsed Republican candidate John Raese in his campaign against longtime incumbent pro-abortion Democrat Sen. Robert Byrd. Raese is making abortion a key campaign issue in a state where most residents are strongly pro-life.
The pro-life group cited Raese’s pro-life views and Byrd’s history of backing abortion in the U.S. Senate as the reasons for its endorsement.
“I will proudly and unapologetically carry the pro-life banner in the U.S. Senate, where Senator Byrd has so many times voted liberal political interests over the interests of saving the lives of innocent children," Raese said in response to the endorsement.
Raese is trying to make abortion a major issue in the race and is citing Byrd’s votes in favor of Roe v. Wade and against a bill to protect pregnant women like Laci Peterson from acts of violence as reasons to make a change.
"Abortion destroys life at its most innocent and vulnerable stage, and Senator Byrd’s pro-abortion voting record in Washington is a disgrace to West Virginia, which is a pro-life state,” Raese said in a statement LifeNews.com obtained.
Byrd is also coming under fire for running campaign commercials on Christian radio stations saying he embraces Christian faith and values.
"There’s a contradiction between what he says as in radio ads he’s running on Christian radio stations and how he votes in Washington," Gary Abernathy, a Raese advisor, told the Associated Press.
But Byrd campaign spokesman Mark Ferrell pointed to his handful of pro-life votes as reasons to re-elect the senator. He said Byrd voted to ban partial-birth abortions and supported President Bush’s two nominees to the Supreme Court, who enjoyed support from pro-life groups.
"Like most West Virginians, Senator Byrd abhors the idea of abortion," Ferrell claimed in comments to AP. "Senator Byrd stands up for West Virginia values and that won’t change no matter who endorses which
However, according to the National Right to Life Committee, Byrd has just a 33 percent pro-life voting record in 2005-2006, only a 36 percent pro-life voting record from 2003-2004 and scored a 0 percent pro-life rating from 2001-2002.
Abernathy said Byrd has been attacked on the issue of abortion before but said Raese, a multimillionaire businessman, has the ability to drive home the issue like never before.
"I think abortion is more important an issue in this state than perhaps it is in any other state," he told AP.
"Byrd has this unchallenged image in the state," Abernathy said. "I think John is the first candidate with the resources to demonstrate, ‘here’s how he really votes.’"