Learn about critical races up and down the ballot.
Hot Congressional Races
This November, voters will face critical decisions up and down the ballot. For the next few weeks, the Planned Parenthood Action Fund is highlighting some of the hottest congressional races across the country. There's a lot at stake this year, and Planned Parenthood is poised to make a difference.New Hot Races
After decisively beating a strongly anti-choice opponent in 2006, pro-choice freshman Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D) is contending with yet another anti-choice adversary for Arizona's Eighth District. Giffords has been a strong proponent of the need to protect access to affordable birth control at universities and safety net clinics, like Planned Parenthood health centers. Her opponent, extreme anti-choice Arizona State Senate President Tim Bee (R), has consistently voted against women’s health measures. Bee has consistently received the endorsement of Arizona Right to Life for his leadership on issues that limit women’s reproductive health and freedom.
The retirement of Sen. Wayne Allard (R) has left a vacancy, and Rep. Mark Udall (D) is battling it out to succeed him in the U.S. Senate. Udall is a 100 percent pro-choice legislator, who has fought for women’s health during his tenure in the U.S. House of Representatives. His opponent, former Rep. Bob Schaffer (R), had achieved a zero percent rating from the Planned Parenthood Action Fund. He voted anti-choice on every women’s health proposal that crossed his desk — even on the global gag rule. The Denver Post’s recent poll showed Udall leading Schaffer 43–38 percent.
With pro-choice Rep. Tom Allen (D) running for the U.S. Senate, the race for Maine's first congressional district is wide open! Chellie Pingree (D) has continually shown her commitment to women’s health. While serving as the Maine Senate majority leader, Pingree voted on and provided leadership on numerous pieces of reproductive rights legislation. Pingree sponsored legislation to provide contraceptive equity coverage which was signed into law; co-sponsored successful legislation to codify Roe v. Wade; and co-sponsored successful legislation to establish an office of women’s health to improve leadership and coordination in developing a comprehensive outlook on the overall status of women.
Michigan State Senate Minority Leader Mark Schauer (D), one of Planned Parenthood’s strongest allies in the Michigan State Senate, is now running for U.S. representative in the Seventh District. Schauer stood with Planned Parenthood and helped defeat a state-level abortion ban that, like the federal abortion ban, did not make an exception for cases in which a woman’s health is in danger. His opponent, Rep. Tim Walberg (R), is one of the most extreme anti-choice members of the U.S. House of Representatives. Walberg’s consistent anti-choice efforts won him the “Advocate for Life” award from Michigan Right to Life. This race is considered a tossup, and Sen. Schauer needs your help to push him over the top!
A hotly competitive race for Nevada's Third Congressional District in 2006 demonstrated that anti-choice incumbent Rep. Jon Porter (R) was vulnerable and ripe for another tough challenge in 2008. Former Nevada State Minority Leader Dina Titus (D) has long been a champion on Planned Parenthood’s issues. Titus was a main sponsor of a bill that would require insurance companies to cover the HPV vaccine and legislation that would require the state to cover contraception in its employees’ health care plans. Porter voted for the Pence Amendment, which would strip Planned Parenthood health centers of Title X funding.
Former New Hampshire governor and pro-choice leader Jeanne Shaheen (D) is primed for victory against anti-choice incumbent Sen. John Sununu (R). As governor, Shaheen required health insurance companies to cover contraceptives and introduced New Hampshire’s Children’s Health Insurance Program which ensured affordable health insurance to thousands of children in the state. Shaheen also repealed New Hampshire’s 150-year-old law that made abortion a felony. Her opponent Sen. Sununu has a zero percent rating from the Planned Parenthood Action Fund — consistently voting against women’s health. While polling has continually shown Shaheen maintaining a strong lead, this race could come down to the wire like it did in 2002!
After losing by a mere 3,000 votes in 2006 to Rep. Mike Ferguson (R), New Jersey State Assemblywoman Linda Stender (D) is back and ready to win the open seat in New Jersey's seventh congressional district! Stender led the battle in the New Jersey Assembly to make emergency contraception available over the counter. She also sponsored legislation that required pharmacists to fill women’s birth control prescriptions. Her anti-choice opponent, State Senator Leonard Lance (R), has repeatedly voted to restrict women’s access to abortion and family planning services. He also opposed legislation that would have required pharmacists to fill contraceptive prescriptions. The latest polls show the two battling it out within the margin of error.
The choice could not be clearer in Oregon's tight Senate race. Oregon State House Speaker Jeff Merkley (D), an unwavering supporter of women’s health, is running strong against anti-choice incumbent Sen. Gordon Smith (R). Merkley has proudly stood with Planned Parenthood throughout his legislative career. Merkley led the fight in Oregon to pass the “Access to Birth Control Act,” which required health insurance plans to cover birth control and required hospitals to offer emergency contraception to women who seek emergency room treatment after a sexual assault. Smith, on the other hand, voted against allowing late-term abortions even to protect the health of the woman four times. We need more pro-choice champions like Jeff Merkley in the U.S. Senate! All of the recent polls indicate that Merkley is on the rise and is set on a path to unseat Smith.
After narrowly losing the race for Washington's Eighth Congressional District in 2006, Darcy Burner (D) is ready for a rematch against anti-choice incumbent Rep. Dave Reichert (R). Burner wants to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies by increasing availability of emergency contraception and access to family planning services. Reichert has a zero percent rating from Planned Parenthood Action Fund and stated during a debate that it is okay for a pharmacist to refuse to fill birth control prescriptions for religious or moral reasons. Recent polling shows Burner trailing Reichert by only a few points.