The Democratic Attorneys General Association has created a new requirement for every Democrat wanting its endorsement: support the pro-choice agenda on abortion or lose the group’s support.
The decision by the advocacy arm of Democratic attorneys general to place abortion front-and-center heading into 2020 means the balance of power in state AGs offices nationwide could be determined by that single issue.
Democrats currently occupy 26 state attorneys general positions, plus that of the District of Columbia, while Republicans hold 24 such seats. However, GOP wins recently at the ballot box in Kentucky and Mississippi have flipped the attorney-general offices in those states.
As Democrats look to defend their hold on AG seats in key 2020 battlegrounds such as North Carolina and Pennsylvania, DAGA is ensuring that abortion will be a defining issue in those races.
“Attorneys general are the front lines of reproductive freedom, they have the power to protect your rights and we have the power to elect them,” said Letitia James, the New York Attorney General, in a DAGA video announcing the decision. “It’s your body, your family, your choice, your vote.”
The Republican Attorneys General Association responded swiftly by rejecting any and all litmus tests for attorneys general offices.
“The only litmus test for an attorney general should be a belief in the rule of law and the courage to defend and uphold the constitution,” said Adam Piper, Republican Attorneys General Association executive director, in a statement. “While RAGA is focused on winning elections and the hearts and minds of voters, DAGA is focused on disregarding the rule of law and folding to the demands of extreme special interest groups.”
Mr. Piper labeled Democrats as “out of touch” and “desperate” to earn funding from “dangerously progressive special interest groups who support using hard-earned taxpayer dollars to fund late-term and third trimester abortions.”
Pro-life advocacy groups that oppose pro-choice abortion policies were quick to condemn DAGA’s decision but appear reluctant to implement any anti-abortion litmus test of their own for state attorneys general candidates.
“The DAGA’s litmus test underscores the extremism of the modern Democratic Party on abortion. Long gone are the days of ‘safe, legal and rare,’” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, SBA List president, in a statement.
“While Democratic Party power brokers send a clear message that these voters are unwelcome, SBA List is reaching out to persuadable Democrats, Independents, and moderate Republicans to educate them about the candidates and the stakes of the coming elections.”
Part of the pro-life advocacy groups’ decision to not push for an anti-abortion litmus test likely stems from President Trump’s 2016 commitment to nominate pro-life Supreme Court justices, defund Planned Parenthood, and prevent taxpayers from funding abortions. Last month, Mr. Trump met with Ms. Dannenfelser in the Oval Office and said he would secure a ban on abortion “after five months” of pregnancy.