RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – With six weeks to go until Election Day, Democrats tried to put the focus Tuesday on abortion access as the leader of a national group called the state “a central battleground.”
EMILY’s List President Laphonza Butler joined Gov. Roy Cooper (D) and women running in competitive districts at the General Assembly as they urged voters to elect enough Democrats to sustain Cooper’s vetoes of bills Republicans may pass next year that would restrict abortion access.
The group works to elect women who support abortion rights.
“This state is a central battleground for the midterm elections and for protecting abortion rights,” Butler said. “When faced with the threats of our own freedom and bodily autonomy, there’s a lot that women in this country are angry about. So, we want to work with our candidates to change that.”
Republicans could gain veto-proof majorities in the state legislature this November. They need to pick up three seats in the state House of Representatives and two seats in the state Senate.
“In North Carolina, women still have reproductive freedom. And as Governor, I aim to keep it that way,” Gov. Cooper said. “I have to have a number in the legislature that would be willing to stand with me and support my veto of right-wing legislation.”
In a poll CBS 17 released last week in partnership with Emerson College and The Hill, 59 percent of voters said the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade made them more likely to vote in November compared to 35 percent who said it make no difference and 6 percent who said it makes them less likely.
Voters also were asked to name the top issue in the election. Among them, 41 percent of likely voters cited the economy. Threats to democracy came in second, as 14 percent of voters chose that. Twelve percent of voters said abortion is the top issue.
“Democrats are desperate to try to get their voting base out to vote because they’re all depressed by the economy and inflation,” Tami Fitzgerald said, the executive director of the NC Values Coalition. “They are scratching for any issue that will get their base voters out to vote.”
The Democrats’ press conference in Raleigh came as U.S. Treasury Sec. Janet Yellen was appearing in Durham to talk about the Inflation Reduction Act, focusing on provisions to combat climate change.
“Constituents and voters can walk and chew gum. You can be worried about inflation, but you can also be worried about the fact that you’re not going to be able to control your body and make decisions,” state Sen. Sydney Batch (D-Wake) said.
In addition to the press conference with state Democrats, Laphonza Butler also campaigned with Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Cheri Beasley at North Carolina Central University in Durham and North Carolina State in Raleigh.
Earlier this month, EMILY’S List announced it would spend $2.7 million on ads to help Beasley in the campaign.
Beasley criticized her Republican opponent U.S. Rep. Ted Budd for recently co-sponsoring a bill that would ban abortion nationally after 15 weeks of pregnancy. North Carolina law bans it after 20 weeks with limited exceptions for medical emergencies.
“And, the decision must be between a woman and her physician. And, there’s no place in the exam room for Congressman Ted Budd,” Beasley said.
Samantha Cotten, a spokesperson for Budd, said in an email, “Ted has always been open that he is pro-life. Ted has not changed his position and would prefer this be left to the states. But Democrats keep trying to codify this matter on the federal level in a way that would allow taxpayer-funded abortions on demand until the moment of birth, a position supported by Cheri Beasley and wildly out-of-step with NC. He has always supported pain-capable legislation since being in Congress, so there is nothing new here.”
Beasley’s campaign released an internal poll Tuesday showing the two are tied. It mirrors other recent polls that show the race has tightened since the spring.
When asked about the Democrats’ record on the economy, Beasley said inflation is “the prevailing issue” in the election.
“Prices are too high. People are feeling everything from pain at the pump to the price of prescription drugs and everything in between,” she said.