Democrats want to make Rep. Cory Gardner the next Todd Akin — but it’s not so easy.
The Colorado Republican is challenging Sen. Mark Udall and putting a pivotal race in play for his party, which must net six seats to win control of the Senate. In response, Democrats have focused their attacks on Gardner on women’s health issues — a topic that has proved to be a land mine for some Republican hopefuls in past races.
On Wednesday, the Senate is expected to have a procedural vote on a measure that would effectively nullify the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby ruling, which allowed some employers to not offer birth control coverage in health insurance plans. The vote will likely fail, but it’s given Udall a prime opportunity to serve as one of his party’s top voices on the issue in Washington and home in Colorado.
“Several days ago, I was home in the great state of Colorado and I stood shoulder to shoulder with experts in women’s health care who joined me to highlight how the Hobby Lobby decision is already negatively affecting women in our state,” Udall said on the Senate floor Tuesday. “One Denver-based OB-GYN explained how physicians might now have to consider an employer’s religious beliefs when making medical recommendations.”
Last week, Udall skipped a fundraiser with President Barack Obama in Colorado to stay in Washington, D.C., where he stood beside Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Planned Parenthood’s Cecile Richards, among others, as the legislation was introduced.
Udall’s race has become increasingly competitive . A new NBC News/Marist Poll of 914 registered voters showed Udall leading Gardner, 48 percent to 41 percent, with 10 percent of respondents undecided. It was recently rated as a Tilts Democratic contest by the Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.
Republicans have historically had a turnout advantage in midterm elections, but Democrats have bet women’s health issues will boost female voters at the polls. Specifically, Udall’s strategy targets swing voters, who are predominately suburban women, between the ages of 30 and 55, according to several Democratic consultants.
Outside groups have also taken up the cause for Udall. Senate Majority PAC released a new ad Tuesday accusing Gardner of trying to “redefine rape,” to exclude statutory rape and victims who were drugged and then raped.