California GOP Senate Primary Could Determine Party Direction on Abortion

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 17, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

California GOP Senate Primary Could Determine Party Direction on Abortion

by Steven Ertelt Editor
November 17
, 2008

Sacramento, CA ( — The entrance of pro-life Assemblyman Chuck DeVore into the 2010 Senate race to challenge pro-abortion Sen. Barbara Boxer could determine whether California Republicans rely on pro-life or pro-abortion candidates to get back on track after years of election failure.

DeVore is well received in conservative circles in the state but pro-abortion Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is considering mounting a challenge.

If so, the primary election race could see a bitter divide between pro-life Republicans who want the party to continue to stand on principle on abortions and pro-abortion Republicans who say the party needs a watered-down message to appeal to the majority of voters who are not pro-life.

Mainstream media outlets and pro-abortion Republicans point out that no pro-life advocate has won statewide office since 1994.

"If you want to win a statewide race, you have to win over Democrats and independents — and you have to be for abortion rights to do that," Mark Herrick, president of the pro-abortion California Republican League, told MediaNews.

However, other than Schwarzenegger, abortion advocates haven’t won either.

DeVore talked about how the primary election could determine the future of the state party on abortion.

"This election will be a defining election for Republicans," DeVore said. "This is part of an ongoing struggle for what it means to be a Republican, and who wins this battle will determine who defines the party forward. The 2010 election will be important for taking lessons learned in the last eight years and refreshing the party with a new focus."

DeVore told MediaNews that Schwarzenegger could have a tough time in a closed Republican Primary with voters who are more pro-life than the general electorate.

"You’re darn right it’s going to hurt him in the primary," DeVore said of the governor’s stand on abortion and other issues.

Exit polling data from the GOP primary presidential election appears to bear that out.

The exit poll of California Republican voters shows them taking a pro-life position by a 54-42 percentage point margin with 19 percent saying abortions should always be illegal and 35 percent saying most abortions should be illegal.

Just 28 percent said most abortions should remain legal with only 14 percent agreeing with Boxer and Schwarzenegger that all abortions should remain legal.

Ultimately, the results of the election could have much to do with how incoming president Barack Obama fares in office. A poor performance could drive up Republican turnout for the party’s nominee while a strong performance could make Boxer a shoo-in.

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