Anti-Planned Parenthood Republicans struggle in Colorado swing districts


The GOP's anti-women's health positions are out of place in a state moving left.

Suburban Colorado districts will likely decide what party controls the state's Senate next year. Yet Republicans there are trying to appeal to swing voters while remaining committed to defunding Planned Parenthood and staking out other strident, anti-women's health stances.

Looking more like fringe Trump Republicans than moderates who seek compromise, Republican candidates, including Christine Jensen, Tony Sanchez, and Tim Neville, remain committed to a far-right, anti-choice agenda.

It's an agenda that many Republicans don't seem anxious to loudly proclaim this campaign season.

In that regard, Colorado Republicans mirror a national trend, as GOP candidates work hard to cover up their radical positions.

"As the 2018 midterms draw near, few Republican House candidates in swing districts are talking about it at all — even those who are running explicitly anti-choice platforms," ThinkProgress recently noted.

Trump and Republicans once again threatened to cut off all federal funding for Planned Parenthood, which already by law is not allowed to spend federal funding on abortions.

If Republicans in Washington, D.C., succeed in defunding Planned Parenthood, approximately 24,000 Coloradans would lose access to reproductive health care.

The GOP's incessant attacks on Planned Parenthood exploded in November 2015, when a right-wing gunman shot and killed three people at a Planned Parenthood office in Colorado Springs.

Today, Jensen remains committed to cutting off all public funding for Planned Parenthood. She's running in the hyper-competitive District 20 race, which has emerged as one of the most expensive state legislature races in Colorado history.

Previously, Jensen refused to state whether she supports Trump or not.

Meanwhile in District 22, Republican Sanchez scored a perfect a "100 percent pro-life" score from the anti-abortion advocacy group Colorado Right to Life during his previous state Senate run in 2014.

"As far as views on abortion go, Sanchez's are about as far-right as can be," the Colorado Times Recorder recently noted. That could be problematic considering District 22 has more registered Democrats than Republicans.

As for Neville, as a Colorado Senate incumbent he previously supported an extreme bill that would have robbed Colorado women of virtually all their reproductive freedoms. The bill would have banned all abortion, and many forms of birth control, by giving fertilized eggs legal "personhood" status.

Neville won re-election in 2014 by less than 3 percentage points in District 16, a moderate suburban area located southwest of Denver. In 2016, it swung further to the left, supporting Hillary Clinton by 9 points.

By contrast to the far-right Republicans, Planned Parenthood Votes Colorado (PPVC) endorsed five key Democratic candidates running in toss-up races this year, including the three running against Jensen, Sanchez, and Neville.

"Each of these exceptional candidates will stand up for women and families across our state," the group announced in June. "PPVC endorses and works to elect candidates who trust women to make their own health care decisions, including decisions about abortion, and these candidates exemplify those values."

The five women are Jessie Danielson, Kerry Donovan, Brittany Pettersen, Tammy Story, and Faith Winter.

The reason some Colorado Republicans might be soft-peddling their anti-choice agenda is that a far-right platform doesn't seem appealing in the state, especially among women voters.

In Colorado, Trump suffers from a 20-point gender gap among women, with 60 percent disapproving of him (51 percent "strongly disapprove" of Trump).

The Republican Party suffers from a similar problem with women voters in the state — 56 percent say they'll vote Democratic in Congressional races next week, compared to 42 percent who say they'll vote Republican.

Touting a far-right, anti-women agenda to suburban women voters could be a tough sell next week.