Planned Parenthood announces $20M midterm election campaign

Planned Parenthood announces $20M midterm election campaign
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Planned Parenthood's political arm will target eight states in its largest-ever midterm election campaign, the organization announced Thursday.  

The campaign, called "March. Vote. Win.," will focus on competitive Senate and governor's races with an initial cost of $20 million.
 
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Planned Parenthood Action Fund (PPAF) will initially target races in Arizona, Florida, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, though that roster could change as the election cycle evolves. 
 
The organization believes it can have the biggest impact in these races, which could shift the balance in the Senate and in the states.
 
"We think this is critical, critical for protecting, and hopefully expanding, access to reproductive health care in the states," said Deirdre Schifeling, director of PPAF. 
 
"We're sending a clear message to the politicians who made careers of undermining our freedom and rights: we're voting you out in 2018." 
 
The campaign will involve digital and TV ads, direct mail and door canvassing. 
 
Planned Parenthood said its campaign builds off of successes in 2017, including the election of Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam and Alabama Sen. Doug Jones, both Democrats.  
 
Arizona and Nevada are home to the two most vulnerable Republican-held seats. Sen. Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerTrump to fundraise for Heller, Tarkanian in Nevada The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by United Against Nuclear Iran — Kavanaugh and his accuser will testify publicly Poll: Dean Heller running even against Democratic challenger MORE (R-Nev.) faces a tough path to reelection, while Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeGrassley: No reason to delay Kavanaugh hearing Dem senators back Kavanaugh accuser's call for FBI investigation Kavanaugh accuser says FBI should investigate before she testifies MORE's (R-Ariz.) retirement gives Democrats hope to snatch his seat away from the GOP. Both states also have gubernatorial races in 2018, with Nevada seen as far more competitive for Democrats. 
 
The remaining states are home to other competitive gubernatorial and senatorial races as well. Senate races in Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin are considered some of the toughest races in 2018, as are governor's races in Florida, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. 
 
Kelley Robinson of Planned Parenthood Votes said $20 million is just an initial investment, and more states could be targeted as the election cycle evolves.
 
While Planned Parenthood has also made a strong effort to unseat Democratic Rep. Dan Lipinski (Ill.) over his opposition to abortion rights, the group's executives told reporters that they are far more focused on the general election than investing in future primary fights. 
 
"House races are going to be very important in 2018. Our primary focus is in the general election, not as much in primaries," Schifeling said. 

Planned Parenthood had a difficult 2017, when Republicans in Congress launched several efforts to defund the organization. 

"This past year, the Trump-Pence administration and Congress waged a war," Robinson said.

Because of political realities in Congress, Republicans are unlikely to pass defunding legislation this year, leading anti-abortion rights groups to focus their sights on ways the administration can target Planned Parenthood. 

Trump signed a bill last year rolling back an Obama era rule that prevented states from barring Planned Parenthood from Title X, the federally funded family planning program. 

In January, the Department Health and Human Services rolled back guidance from the Obama administration that made it harder for states to block Planned Parenthood from their Medicaid programs. 

Planned Parenthood hopes it can leverage these actions to get people to the ballot box in November to vote out Republicans.

"Now the year of 2018 is really the time to vote them out. Attacking Planned Parenthood isn't just bad policy, it's bad politics," Robinson said.