Well, this is a clarifying event for voters in Louisiana’s US Senate race this fall. Incumbent Sen. Mary Landrieu finally declared herself on the Hobby Lobby decision, voting with fellow Democrats today to reverse the Supreme Court’s ruling protecting the religious liberty of Hobby Lobby’s owners regarding contraception. The Democratic bill failed, thanks to the Republicans. But it did smoke Landrieu out on an issue that will be important to many Louisiana voters this fall. Excerpt from Politico’s report:
Democrats see contraception — which most women use at some point in their lives — as a winning issue in the 2014 elections. Red-state Democrats in tough races have been wary of taking positions on new abortion restrictions, but none defected on the Hobby Lobby vote.
Both Sens. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Mark Pryor of Arkansas voted for the Murray bill, along with Sen. Kay Hagan of North Carolina, who was a co-sponsor. The only Democrat to vote against it was Majority Leader Harry Reid, but that was in a procedural move that allows him to bring it to the floor again. He said Wednesday that he intends to hold another vote on the legislation later this year.
Look for Landrieu to hit hard this fall with ads spinning her vote as a defense of employees against the heavy hand of their bosses. Her GOP opponent (presumably Rep. Bill Cassidy) will have to go strong on the fact that he doesn’t oppose contraception — presumably he doesn’t, as a Protestant — but that this is an issue about religious freedom, and Obamacare not forcing religious dissenters to violate their consciences. Here’s how the GOP is going to spin from its side:
“My wife and I are blessed with two little girls, [but] I’m very glad we don’t have 17,” said Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas). “Nobody is talking about restricting access to contraceptives.”
Republicans also argued that the Democrats’ bill would violate the 1993 law’s religious liberty safeguards — and noted that every current Senate Democrat in office at the time had voted for that law, which passed Congress almost unanimously.
Landrieu’s vote wasn’t a total surprise. She’s pro-choice, and that hasn’t cost her a race yet, despite running in a pro-life state. So we’ll see — but the experts aren’t very optimistic about a Landrieu re-elect.