A week after voters in deep-red Kansas lined up behind abortion rights, a Minnesota Democrat is hoping his special election on Tuesday offers evidence that his party can use the issue to its advantage — even in Republican areas.
The Democratic candidate, Jeff Ettinger, has leaned hard into his support for abortion rights as he campaigns in the special election for a House seat in southern Minnesota.
The election in the First Congressional District will fill the seat of Jim Hagedorn, a Republican who died from cancer in February. On the ballot in the Republican-leaning district are Brad Finstad, a Republican and a former Agriculture Department official during the Trump administration, and Mr. Ettinger, a Democrat and the former chief executive of Hormel Foods.
The two candidates have tangled over the economy and farming issues in the largely rural district. But in the weeks since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, Mr. Ettinger has turned up the volume on his messaging on abortion rights. Mr. Ettinger is in favor of passing legislation that would codify Roe v. Wade into federal law, and Mr. Finstad is anti-abortion. The Finstad campaign’s website says he will “fight to protect all unborn human beings.”
“There’s a stark difference between Jeff Ettinger and the Republican candidate, so we’ve definitely been highlighting that piece of it,” said Jeanne Poppe, Mr. Ettinger’s campaign chair.
Posts on the campaign’s Twitter and Facebook pages from the past week mention “reproductive rights” and “abortion rights.”
Last week, Kansas voters overwhelmingly decided against removing the right to abortion from the state’s constitution, which Ms. Poppe said affirmed the Ettinger campaign’s messaging push.
Mr. Finstad’s campaign doesn’t think abortion is the issue that will move the needle at the polls. “It hasn’t really come up with very many voters,” said David Fitzsimmons, a general consultant for the campaign of Brad Finstad. “Voters seem to be talking about the economy, inflation, gas prices.”
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