'Going on the offense': How Gavin Newsom is taking the abortion fight to other states
When the U.S. Supreme Court officially overturned Roe v. Wade on June 24, 2022 with its ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a national standard for the legality or illegality of abortion was removed — and abortion became a series of legislative battles in 50 different states. Abortion became illegal or greatly restricted in a long list of red states, while blue states moved to codify their protections of abortion rights. And in swing states like Pennsylvania, Arizona and Virginia, abortion’s legal status could go either way — as Democratic gubernatorial candidates, from incumbent Gretchen Whitmer in Michigan to Josh Shapiro in Pennsylvania, have been emphasizing.
In deep blue California, Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom has been aggressively promoting Proposition 1 — a ballot measure that, journalist Christopher Cadelago notes in Politico, “would enshrine the right to abortion and contraceptives in the state constitution.” Newsom, according to Cadelago, is “spending $2.5 million over the next two weeks” to promote the measure, which will appear on the California ballot in November.
Newsom told Politico, “The idea that we are proactively codifying statute — that we are going on the offense — is something from my perspective to celebrate and to highlight and not just dial-in and take for granted.”
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Cadelago, in an article published by Politico on October 10, stresses that Newsom isn’t just focusing on abortion rights in California — he is taking the abortion fight to other states as well, including some states where Democrats have been struggling in statewide races: Florida and Texas.
“The governor paid for out-of-state TV ads and billboards as part of his attempts to bracket and shame his Republican counterparts in Florida and Texas,” Cadelago reports. “And he signed a sweeping wish list of liberal priorities in his state and wants lawmakers to return before year’s end for a special session to consider windfall taxes on oil companies.”
In Austin, Texas, Newsom paid for a billboard that reads, “Need an abortion? California is ready to help."
Austin is an ideal place for that billboard, as Austin is a deep blue city in a light red state. Although Texas on the whole leans Republican, its large urban centers — including Austin, Houston, El Paso and Dallas — are Democratic strongholds. Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, Texas’ 2022 Democratic gubernatorial nominee, is popular in Urban Texas but is struggling in rural areas and has been trailing incumbent Republican Gov. Greg Abbott by single digits in polls.
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Journalist Landon Mion, reporting for Fox News’ website on October 10, observes, “The billboard campaign is the latest Newsom advertising in Texas pushing his state's access to abortion. The California governor had ads placed in three Texas newspapers in July in which he criticized Texas GOP Gov. Greg Abbott for his stance on abortion and guns. The newspaper ads feature a modified quote from Abbott about Senate Bill 8, which prohibits abortion in the Lone Star State after six weeks of pregnancy.”
Politico’s Cadelago notes that “after beating back last year’s recall attempt, he’s sitting on more than $23 million to spend on Democratic candidates and causes.”
“While California’s abortion measure is leading in public polls,” Cadelago observes, “Newsom contends the ad money was necessary. He pointed to concerns among some Democrats and pundits that voter enthusiasm following the High Court’s Dobbs decision may already be waning and that he doesn’t want the party’s voters to leave anything to chance.”
Newsom told Politico, “The better we do on this, the more intensity, the more we dial it up, I also think it sends a message that reverberates across our borders. If a significant majority come out and vote for Prop. 1, it sends a message to states that didn’t do anything this year — ‘Why didn’t you? Where were you?’ — and to take this moment seriously and get ahead of the next round of Supreme Court decisions. Let’s dust off any timidity here and apathy and take seriously the world we’re living in.”
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