Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mike Ross made encouraging sounds about looking out for women's medical services and the ability to choose abortion when he announced last week. But his past record has included votes to restrict abortion and funding for Planned Parenthood, which recently survived a legislative attack on funding for its sex education work in Little Rock.
Republicans, who LIKED Ross' past record, have been hooting about Ross' pitch to women. Bill Halter, his Democratic opponent, has been beating up Ross as the next Jason Rapert. Ross himself has explicitly said 1) he'd have vetoed the abortion restriction bills Gov. Mike Beebe vetoed and 2) he would NOT support defunding of Planned Parenthood's non-abortion services in Arkansas.
An issue for the long-term? Republicans arguing that Mike Ross isn't as liberal as he wants to you believe? Maybe not. But the Democratic primary is something else. So this internal e-mail to Planned Parenthood supporters from Brenda Kole, director of advocacy for the local affiliate, is of interest:
PPVA Board Members,
I'm sure that you have been aware/following the coverage of Mike Ross's announcement tour over the last few days. He has been making statements about women's health and access that do not seem to reconcile with his record in Congress and in all of his statements, he really hasn't offered an explanation for this change of direction. Also, since yesterday, Bill Halter has gone on the attack on Ross's voting record as well. (both attached)
Based on these statements and actions, we believe that it is important for Planned Parenthood Voters of Arkansas to pose questions to Ross. He has clearly opened up the door to a conversation about it. We do not intend to do this in an attacking way, merely a way to gather more information in order to understand his evolution on these matters.
Overall - we want to give him an opportunity to explain himself and his votes. Also, if he has TRULY made an evolution on this, Jill would like us to have a goal of getting Ross to publicly denounce all of his bad votes in Congress on women's health, otherwise we have absolutely no reason to believe a word he says.
Also, despite what Ross has said, he HAS voted to defund PP. That was the vote from 4/14/11, otherwise known as the Pence Amendment. (attached)
In one of the comments from his campaign manager, he talks about "private meetings" that Ross has had on these issues and what his statewide approach should be. Ross has not reached out to any of us, has he reached out to any of you or others supportive of PP in Little Rock? Just curious...
ACTION - Our plan is to do a joint statement with Planned Parenthood Voters of Arkansas and Planned Parenthood Action Fund on the matter of Ross, his record and inviting him to engage in a conversation about this—in the tone mentioned above. We will do this next week once the legislature goes into recess. We felt it was best to wait on this until the legislature does this since we know that Rapert, Stubblefield etc. could still cause some shenanigans, so we don't want to rock the boat on defunding until the legislators have left town.