At around 2 p.m. last Friday, Tom Kean Jr., the Republican candidate in CD-7, complained on his Facebook page about the price of milk.
That was just about the same time, Democrats across New Jersey and the nation were quickly organizing rallies to condemn the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision earlier that day overturning Roe v. Wade.
If you needed any more proof how some Dems and Republicans are reacting differently to the loss of federal protection for abortion rights, there it was.
Democratic activism is not unexpected.
No matter the isse, those opposed generally are more strident than those in favor.
Those senior enough to remember the Vietnam War era know that well.
There are also very practical reasons for the Democrats’ passion. Polls suggest they’re on the right side of this issue politically.
Not only do a majority of Americans oppose overturning Roe v. Wade, one poll showing up Monday suggests that the decision has made Democrats and like-minded souls more likely to vote in the midterm election.
Whether that sentiment overcomes, or at least neutralizes, high gas prices or inflation in general, remains to be seen.
What is clear is that Democrats in seemingly competitive districts are moving quickly.
In CD-11 covering parts of Morris, Essex and Passaic counties, Democrat Mikie Sherrill accused her Republican opponent, Paul DeGroot, of standing “in lockstep with his party’s anti-woman agenda that has pledged to implement a national abortion ban.”
DeGroot, as of Monday morning, has said nothing about the court ruling.
GOP reticence in commenting about abortion rights in a “blue” state may be understandable. Think of the dog that catches the car. What happens next?
But some Republican candidates – to their credit – are speaking publicly.
In CD-3, Republican candidate Bob Healey said the ruling was expected and that nothing will change in New Jersey, where abortion rights are protected. That is technically correct, but one can’t ignore the possibility of a Republican Congress enacting a nationwide abortion ban. Or for that matter, the blunt words of Clarence Thomas who said he wants the court to reconsider other previous rulings about individual privacy relative to gay rights and contraception.
CD-3 incumbent Democrat Andy Kim praised the support he’s seen in opposition to the ruling at rallies, but he’s also looking ahead.
“What about tomorrow? What about next week or next month?” Kim said in a Facebook post. “What about November? We need to sustain this solidarity and convert this energy into action. Let’s make that promise.”
Up in CD-5, which covers the northern part of the state, Republican candidate Frank Pallotta supported the ruling, saying that, “the fight over abortion returns to the states, where it belongs.” Pallotta, who says he is “pro-life,” agreed with the court that there is no constitutional protection for abortion.
Newly-revamped CD-5 is more Democratic than it was, so Pallotta’s view may cost him votes. He hopes – apparently – that voters will appreciate his candor and there may be something to that.
His opponent, Josh Gottheimer, of course, was not impressed. Here’s what he had to say:
“Pallotta is an anti-choice extremist. His radical position is a horrific breach of personal privacy and freedom that would roll back the clock in New Jersey and our nation, putting millions of women’s lives and health at risk.”
One can expect Democrats to continue pressing this issue.
As CD-7 incumbent Tom Malinowski put it, “We cannot go back to a time in America when women and doctors were treated as criminals or let our daughters grow up with fewer rights than their mothers and grandmothers. We have to elect a Congress that will protect a woman’s right to choose.”
By any objective reasoning, a personal right such as reproductive freedom is more significant – long term – than the price of a gallon of gas.
But one cannot simply ignore the distress inflation is causing many families – and voters.
If it’s not gas and milk, it’s the cost of chicken. Yep, that’s what Kean is talking about today.