Interesting discussion going on at Intelligent Discontent here and here about the choice voting record of Jesse Laslovich, a former legislator who is running for AG. The issue was also mentioned in passing by a guest poster here a while back. Whether a couple of wrong votes on a candidate’s voting record will matter to voters is an interesting question that merits a closer look.
How much these things matter depend not just on what the votes were about but also on the circumstances of the race and the political climate during the election cycle.
It’s important to remember that year after year, every session, nearly every day, Republicans are relentlessly attacking women’s rights on every possible front they can come up with–be it working to chip away women’s freedom piece by piece and vote by vote in the Montana legislature, in ballot initiatives in the states (Montana faces two anti-choice ballot initiatives this election cycle) or in the black hole that is the House of Representatives of the U.S. Congress.
Look at what’s going on right now with the war on women. It’s not just about abortion, or even just about defunding Planned Parenthood. The Republicans are fighting basic healthcare for women, for their whole reproductive lifespan. Women have a big fight on our hands in terms of respect for women, our value and roll in society, and what is the right fit for Montana in terms of family decisions, personal privacy, Medicaid, and preventative health care.
The uptick in attacks probably means that in this climate elections matter even more than usual. Women aren’t likely to take any race, any candidate, nor any vote for granted. When there is an opportunity to do so, I think we’ll see women looking to support a candidate that can be counted on to stand up for women in all circumstances. A primary election race is a classic example of this type of opportunity.
It appears that Laslovich wants to be considered pro-choice, and that’s good. But the facts are that a look at his voting record shows he has made a couple anti-choice votes over the years from 2001-2009 that he served in the legislature. In 2003 and in 2009 Laslovich voted for bills which would not protect women, regardless of the narrowly stated intent of the bill, but instead give fetuses legal personhood, as a wedge to re-criminalize abortion. These voting records are created to help constituents know which votes were pro-choice and which were anti. One can debate the points of the bill or the percentage of bills that a bill represents, but the decisions over whether these measures are good or bad for women’s rights are made by experts and analyzed by attorneys and advocates who work on these issues every day, fighting the attacks year after year. The work of these groups is supported and trusted by local members who make financial contributions in order to get this information and to make sure their rights remain intact.
Voters are going to have to compare the candidates in order to decide whom to vote for. At some point there will likely be endorsements by individuals and groups that will provide us with more information, but voting records aren’t the only record of where an individual candidate stands on an issue.
Voters will likely look at the candidates’ actions on issues, whether they’ve worked on the cause, been active in an issue, or been a donor. For example, they’ll probably look at how Bucy has been an attorney for Planned Parenthood, how as assistant AG to Mike McGrath and at the request of Jon Tester, Bucy wrote the AG’s opinion granting that insurance companies must cover birth control when they cover other prescription drugs–like Viagra, and the fact that Bucy has also made financial contributions to choice organizations –more times than can be linked to here.
The women’s vote will be key in next year’s elections, and analysts expect a battle for our allegiance. Sine 1984, according to CNN exit polls, women have been a majority of voters in both presidential and congressional mid-term elections. However, women make up roughly 58 percent of Democratic Primary voters, so our votes will definitely matter in this race.
It isn’t surprising that commenters, tipsters, and activists are getting involved this far ahead of the 2012 elections, as the stakes are high. Keep the information coming. The more we know about the candidates, the better.