Calls for the Democrats to return to a robust religious outreach have received pushback among some influential voices. The Democratic Party has spent much of the first-year that Republicans have controlled both the White House and Congress by debating which Democratic voters it can afford to cut loose—specifically, whether there’s a place in the party for pro-life voters at all. Following a controversy involving Heath Mello—a candidate for mayor in Omaha, Nebraska, who was deemed to be insufficiently pro-choice—Democratic party chairman Tom Perez said in a statement that it was “not negotiable” that every Democrat should support abortion rights. Mello lost the election to a Republican. Perez’s standard was news to 23 million pro-life Democrats, and Democratic elected officials who have received party support even if they hold nuanced positions on abortion.
No matter how consistently NARAL’s candidates lose to vehemently pro-life, down-the-line Republican politicians, they continue to attack successful Democrats who do not go along with whatever the new litmus test issue is for being “fully pro-choice.” In the closing weeks of the 2016 election, NARAL was running victory laps with its chosen candidate, Katie McGinty, apparently deciding abortion rights was a strong way to close out a campaign in Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, Pat Toomey was elected to a second term, a seat that nearly cost Democrats and the nation repeal of the Affordable Care Act, and just last month served as the deciding vote on the Republican budget.