Dear Friend of Life,
A few notes and observations on the bittersweet results we posted on the night of the primaries, followed by some upcoming pro-life events:
With late-night returns, Planned Parenthood lost one less incumbent than we initially reported, as Rep. Anastasia Williams ultimately retained her House seat by a narrow margin. This raised their House tally to 9 out of 15 versus our 7 out of 11.
As for the most critical race of the night, our loss of pro-life House Majority Leader John DeSimone, much information has come out over the past week, which is important for pro-lifers in Rhode Island to know and to understand in order to motivate and guide future action.
- As we predicted, statewide voter turnout was very low. At around 8%, it was the lowest turnout since at least the year 2000. Low voter turnout presents great opportunity for those in position to capitalize.
- A total of 1,343 people voted in the race, 682 for Planned Parenthood endorsed Marcia Ranglin-Vassel and 661 for RIRTL endorsed John DeSimone, a final margin of just 21 votes.
- The effort to unseat DeSimone was well-funded and sophisticated, initiated by special interest groups and experienced operatives even prior to the identification and selection of Ms. Ranglin-Vassel as their candidate.
- First among the deep pockets for this effort was none other than Planned Parenthood. In the words of RI Progressive Democrats of America state director Sam Bell, “We’re fortunate to have groups like Planned Parenthood to work with, who both supports a core tenet of our platform — a woman’s right to choose — and has deep resources.”
- Also among the deep pockets was former Hasbro Chairman and CEO Alan Hassenfeld who contributed $87,500 to the 527 group “RI for Gun Safety” seeking to unseat DeSimone. Coincidentally (?) this 527 group was on the same side as Planned Parenthood in all of the four races they joined. (N.B. Hassenfeld is a major contributor to Planned Parenthood and his wife serves on their “President’s Council”)
- The Working Families Party (WFP), a “new” coalition uniting Planned Parenthood with local unions as formerly did the now defunct Ocean State Action, added another $16,000 to the effort to unseat DeSimone. All of the WFP endorsees were also endorsed by Planned Parenthood and the WFP enjoyed a remarkably successful night.
Turning out enough votes to win in a low turnout neighborhood primary is not necessarilly (or even often) indicative of the views of the majority of voters in that particular district. Planned Parenthood’s successful effort to unseat House Majority Leader John Desimone is a case in point. It was not a groundswell of pro-choice sentiment that knocked off the pro-life Majority Leader, rather it was a sophisticated operation by a well-funded special interest political machine knocking off a seriously outgunned hometown candidate.
And while this was the narrowest margin of the evening, consider that, statewide, we were a mere 288 votes away from what would have been a decisive pro-life victory and 1,159 votes from what would have been a pro-life clean sweep!!!
While RI Right to Life did everything we could with our comparatively paltry financial and human resources, too many pro-life voters and church-goers chose to stay home rather than vote in the primaries, while Planned Parenthood’s formidable operation was able to turn out just enough votes to squeak by in multiple districts.
The painful lesson I hope and pray that pro-lifers will quickly learn and share is that, presently, our opponents appear to be more committed to their deadly agenda than too many pro-lifers and church-goers are to defending life. We need to change that!
Elections have consequences, and while, barring any surprises in the November 8 general elections, I do not foresee the recent results as allowing for easy “pro-choice” victories in the next legislative session, it may possibly put any substantial pro-life victories out of reach.