A concerted effort by liberal-progressives and abortion rights groups to counter conservative majorities in Congress and in state legislatures is playing out during the first six months of the Trump administration.
Planned Parenthood’s political action arm—Planned Parenthood Action Fund (PPAF)—is pouring money into targeted races aimed at flipping seats to pro-abortion rights candidates. In perhaps the highest-profile race this spring, PPAF has reportedly spent more than $100,000 to boost a liberal-progressive candidate to fill Georgia’s vacant 6th District congressional seat—Jon Ossoff, who has vowed to defend abortion laws and Planned Parenthood funding. On June 20, pro-life Republican Karen Handel will face Ossoff in a runoff election. The winner will fill the slot left by new Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price.
In 2012, Handel was barraged with criticism from abortion advocates for convincing the Susan G. Komen Foundation to stop grants to Planned Parenthood. Within days, the Komen Foundation reversed course after loud opposition from liberal groups, and Handel promptly resigned her post as a senior vice president. Handel is endorsed by the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List.
Also, PPAF spent more than $100,000 in a special election to fill Montana’s lone congressional seat on behalf of Democrat Rob Quist, a Montana folk musician. Entering May, Quist was running strong against pro-life candidate Greg Gianforte, a Republican. The May 25 vote was for a seat vacated by Ryan Zinke, who left to become Trump’s interior secretary.
Meanwhile, Emily’s List, an organization that aims to recruit and elect abortion-friendly political candidates, announced an effort called Focus 2020, seeking to overturn conservative majorities in state legislatures. If that happens, the next remapping of congressional districts, scheduled for 2020 and done at the state level, could be gerrymandered to favor liberal-progressive candidates.