DCCC chairman responds to critics on abortion litmus test

DCCC chairman responds to critics on abortion litmus test
© Victoria Sarno Jordan

Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) is elaborating on recent comments he made to The Hill regarding whether House Democrats will consider a candidate's stance on abortion rights a litmus test.

In a Tuesday statement on Facebook the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), thanked his critics for reaching out after the comments spawned controversy in liberal circles. He also defended his push for a big-tent Democratic Party as the DCCC makes a play for the House majority. 

"Democrats have a lot of work ahead of us if we want to take the House back in 2018. As you are aware, Republicans control both chambers in the Congress," he wrote on Facebook

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"We will have to win in very tough, diverse, swing Republican held districts across the country. Ultimately, the people in districts across the country will determine who will take on the Republican incumbent."

Luján emphasized his own commitment to abortion rights in the Facebook post, sharing a picture of his perfect voting record from Planned Parenthood Action Fund's scorecard. And he declared that he is "pro-women pro-choice, and fully respect[s] the connection between a woman's health, her economic future and the future of our country." 

Anti-abortion voices played an integral role in Democrats last successful attempt to flip the House, in 2006, as the DCCC and the national party reached out to those who did not fully agree to the party's stance on abortion rights. 

Democratic leaders such as Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerThis week: GOP mulls vote on ‘abolish ICE’ legislation Red-state Dem tells Schumer to 'kiss my you know what' on Supreme Court vote Dem infighting erupts over Supreme Court pick MORE (D-N.Y.) have all said that the party does not have a litmus test on the issue of abortion, even as they defended the party's platform that calls for the right to "safe and legal" abortion. 

That's because many Democrats believe the path to flipping the House again could require openness to recruiting candidates in red districts with conservative views on abortion. 

But major liberal groups that support abortion access, such as Planned Parenthood, NARAL Pro-Choice America and EMILY's List, have bristled at the idea. They argue that ceding ground on abortion could be a slippery slope and that it isn't worth the cost. 

"The idea that jettisoning this issue wins elections for Democrats is folly contradicted by all available data," NARAL's Mitchell Stille told The Hill. 

"A small minority of voters vote strictly on an anti-choice platform. Those same voters just aren't going to vote for Democrats anyway."