Mike Ross' entry into the Democratic primary race for governor, with a full-throated cry for women's rights against the Republican legislature, naturally invited an examination of his voting record. It's not so hot on abortion rights. Evolution on issues is good, of course, but as Democratic candidate Bill Halter's campaign says, it might give a voter pause on trusting which position should be believed. See jump for Halter's statement.
Republicans have been piling on this point, too. They REALLY want to damage Ross now because their polls and other polls show Ross as the stronger Democratic candidate in the fall.
It is something of an ironic spectacle to have Halter claiming he is WAY more liberal on abortion than Mike Ross on the heels of a legislative session in which some of the country's most punitive abortion laws were passed with bipartisan votes and speedy overrides of Gov. Mike Beebe's veto. I tend to believe Arkansas is somewhat more in the middle than those votes reflect. But I'm not sure even Democratic primary voters are as far left on this issue as the Halter campaign's vigorous pro-abortion-rights thrust might have you believe.
We'll see in time. I'll update if Ross responds to my query.
UPDATE: Statement from the campaign:
Mike Ross is pro-life, but, like Governor Beebe, believes abortion should be safe, legal and rare. And, as governor, he would have done just what Gov. Beebe did and he would vetoed both abortion bills. In his announcement, Mike Ross said that instead of focusing on these divisive issues, we should come together as a state and focus on education, economic development and job creation - issues Mike Ross will campaign on and issues Mike Ross will lead on as our next governor.
BILL HALTER NEWS RELEASE
MIKE ROSS CAUGHT MISLEADING ARKANSANS
· ROSS SAID HE WOULD HAVE VETOED 20-WEEK ABORTION BAN — BUT ROSS VOTED IN FAVOR OF STRICTER 20 WEEK ABORTION BAN - ROSS DENIES FACTUAL RECORD
· ROSS SPOKE AGAINST “ATTACKS ON WOMEN” — RECORD SHOWS HE
CO-SPONSORED BILL WITH TODD AKIN TO REDEFINE RAPE AND VOTED TWICE TO DEFUND PLANNED PARENTHOOD
Yesterday Mike Ross criticized “misguided politicians” for their “divisive” policies and said that their “attacks on women and family will not work" and "don't belong in Arkansas.”
[Source: ArkansasOnline.com 4/17/2013]
Women will be outraged to learn that Mike Ross now claims to be their champion when his own record clearly demonstrates otherwise.
The fact is Mike Ross co-sponsored with Todd Akin highly divisive legislation that sought to redefine rape and would have prevented women from obtaining important medical care.
[Source: HR 3 — 1/20/11]
Mike Ross spoke out against right-wing policies being promoted in the Arkansas legislature, such as defunding Planned Parenthood, and said they had no place in Arkansas. But Mike Ross’s own record includes these same votes in Washington.
The fact is Mike Ross voted twice to defund Planned Parenthood.
[Source H Amdt 95 to HR 1 - 2/18/11] — [H CON RES 36 4/14/2011]
Mike Ross claims that he would have vetoed the abortion bills that Governor Beebe recently vetoed. But Mike Ross’s own record indicates that his claim cannot be trusted to be truthful.
This morning, Talk Business' Jason Tolbert reported that:
“Ross was asked by Alice Stewart on her radio show about his vote in Congress for an identical bill as passed by the legislature.
“No, that’s not true,” said Ross denying the claim and instead insisting that this was an attack from the extreme right and extreme left.”
[Source: TalkBusiness.net — 4/18/2013]
The fact is Mike Ross voted for a measure that would have banned abortions in Washington, DC after 20 weeks of pregnancy. It was even stricter than the Arkansas bill, denying women who were raped or were victims of incest.
[Source HR 3803 — Roll Call 539 7/31/12]
After announcing that he would not run for reelection to Congress and less than two months after saying he was not going to run governor Mike Ross showed his true colors and voted for this ban. Only now that he is running for governor, has he chosen to flip-flop to suit his own political ambition.
Mike Ross’s statements are not consistent with his own previous actions.
Mike Ross talks about believing in Arkansas values but yesterday he demonstrated a determined willingness to ignore those values when it served his own political ambition.
With Bill Halter, Arkansans know where he stands. He would have vetoed the abortion bills and he never would have supported the attacks on women that Mike Ross promoted by cosponsoring and voting for legislation that would have restricted women from receiving important medical care.
Mike Ross’s record of denying women access to medical care is only one of many aspects of an overall record that Arkansans will find troubling. I am confident that the Arkansas press corps will do their homework and hold Mr. Ross accountable for his own record, rather than allow him to run on someone else’s record.