Home 2017 Races WTF NARAL?



by Brendan

What in the hell is NARAL Virginia doing?

You may have seen their ads on Blue Virginia attacking Bernie Sanders on abortion which seem grossly irrelevant to the current governor’s race. The apparent relationship however is that Bernie Sanders recently joined with John Podesta, Elizabeth Warren and dozens of Obama alums in endorsing Tom Perriello for Governor. But for some reason, as the Democratic party continues to join together against Donald Trump and his neo-crazy agenda, NARAL-VA appears to be more interested in re-litigating Bernie Sanders.

Neither candidate for governor has been perfect — Perriello was trying to do a song and dance with Virginia’s 5th on the Stupak amendment, and a significant number of the anti-choice judges currently on the federal bench are courtesy of Ralph Northam’s preferred presidential candidate in ’00 and ’04, George W. Bush. I’m guessing voting for Bush is negotiable for NARAL-VA? Moving on…

We have two excellent candidates for governor in Virginia. Rather than enjoy this fact, we have organizations like NARAL running disingenuous and misleading attack ads against Sanders, who has consistently received a top rating of 100% from NARAL. Can’t help but think of the saying “with friends like these…” This style of attack does nothing to promote women’s health or protect access to abortion and reproductive rights.

Tom Perriello and Ralph Northam are both outstanding individuals and candidates, who have proven themselves as dedicated public servants and that’s why the race is so competitive. It is unfortunate that NARAL’s Virginia chapter has chosen to divide and distract rather than building on the core positivity and energy surrounding these candidates.

Disclaimer – I am voting for Perriello, but will proudly vote, volunteer and financially support whoever emerges as the winner of Virginia’s Democratic primary. I have donated to pro-choice groups and worked on digital advocacy projects for them, including working with NARAL to launch the first web app using geolocation to provide women with the location, business hours, contact information and directions for accessing emergency birth control.

  • Hilary Gibson

    One of the worst things about this race is the misuse of the word “attack”. NARAL’s ad may be pointed but it has a long long way to go before being a full-on attack. An attack would be something like “Bernie wants to send women back to the days of back alley abortions”.

    As far as Northam’s Bush votes – jfc already. I don’t like them but I have to roll my eyes at how much Team Perriello/his supporters are harping on it. You just said you will vote, volunteer and financially support the winner so clearly they are not a deal breaker for you. NARAL is focused on politicians not private citizens so it’s not surprising they haven’t commented on it. Finally how responsible will we hold American citizens for their singular vote and the admin’s actions? Are you going to tell me I’m pro-drone strikes because I voted twice for Obama?

    • Brendan

      I was run off the road, had my car swarmed and physically threatened several times for being “an abortionist” during the 2004 election while working for John Kerry in Pennsylvania…. where was Ralph Northam?

      That said, I like Ralph Northam, a lot.


      If they are going to run some kind of purity test attack on a Perriello endorser, who has voted with NARAL 100% of the time, then surely they can understand questions about Northam and his votes for Bush?

      I have worked with NARAL arm and arm on dozens of races, and understand their decentralized chapter structure allows for some irrational activities while generally being more responsive, but NARAL VA is in desperate need of new leadership and a new board.

      This makes absolutely zero sense from a tactical standpoint in the race and hurts them as an otherwise valued brand in Democratic politics.

      • Hilary Gibson

        I dunno maybe seeing a terminally ill child for free?

        Correct me if I’m wrong but – as I understand it – ratings and endorsements are based on things like votes in capacity as a public servant, policy proposals, public statements, etc. In harping on GWB votes, you’re moving the goal posts and complaining that something not typically factored in is wait for it…not factored in.

        I not connected to NARALVA in any way but I don’t see what’s horrible about their ads. I am frustrated that abortion rights activists are expected to just be grateful for what they get and can’t be proactive like other groups. Fight for $15 pushed Hillary directly in the Dem primary for being squishy on a $15 min wage and even I though I was a Hillary supporter I didn’t mind. Nor would I mind if a primary Dem candidate was pushed on being ambiguous on universal healthcare.

        The click thru is about the Dem party in general. ZERO mention of Perriello, Northam or the Virginia governor race so again why are you singling out abortion rights and claiming they’re about Tom?

        • Brendan

          It’s more than a little disingenuous to attack someone with a long history of supporting abortion rights, while the person they are endorsing was voting for a guy who stacked the federal bench with anti-choice judges. The world is imperfect.

          Instead of using their institutional power to support someone in the primary, they are trying to do an end-around smear. Politically it accomplishes nothing. I have not seen the internals for either campaign, but i’m guessing there are a decent number of Bernie/Warren folks who either like Ralph or remain undecided, which makes this an incredibly stupid political play. If anything it drives a huge number of people away from Northam.

          As I mentioned, I like NARAL and have worked with their state chapters on whole bunch of races, but this kind of attack certainly made the decision for this primary much easier for me.

          • Hilary Gibson

            Ok we seem to be going in a bit of loop. If you want to be mad about NARAL-VA being proactive on abortion rights (without mentioning the VA gov race or candidates), be mad.


          • To my mind, being proactive about abortion rights would involve going hard after people (aka, Republicans) who are against a woman’s right to reproductive freedom and health — NOT going after a guy (Sanders) with 100% scores down the line on this issue.

          • Hilary Gibson

            Um who fought harder against the GOP’s trans-vaginal ultrasound than NARAL-VA? Who was by their side?

            NARAL is constantly going hard against the GOP across the country and it’s laughable to suggest they stop there. Like I said before, progressive groups focused on the min wage, medicare for all, corporate donations, etc. call out Dems all the freaking time. Are you saying they should stop doing that and only going after GOP from now on?

            I’m sorry their calling out of Bernie’s boneheaded statements makes you guys uncomfortable.

          • They should most definitely focus their energies on the real enemy of women’s health and reproductive freedom, which is the current-day Republican Party.

          • Hilary Gibson

            Ok I hope you apply that same logic to other progressive groups but I doubt you will.

          • Uhhhh…do you know me at all? I’ve made a similar argument many times, including on enviro issues with people like Joe Manchin.

          • Jason Rylander

            You just contradicted yourself. Above you seem to agree that this ad is not about being proactive and is intended instead to influence the election.

            If it were simply about being proactive, I can see it. But I fail to see how Bernie’s big tent statements are any different than those of Democratic politicians for generations, including Nancy Pelosi’s this very month. Perhaps they are all boneheaded, but the ads only target the senator from Vermont.

          • Hilary Gibson

            Wut? BV brings up the Gov race when talking abt Ralph’s weak spots, NARAL did not mention it when calling out Bernie’s comments. I have no control other what either party writes.

            Maybe when I said “NARAL fights Republicans across the country” I should have added year round because they don’t need an election to act but I figured that was obvious.

            You’re correct NARAL should call out Nancy Pelosi as well. I would have no objection to such an ad.

          • Jason Rylander

            They won’t though, which is the point.

          • Hilary Gibson

            They did come down on Tom Perez back in April and it worked. Pelosi’s having a town hall this week. I’d be shocked if she wasn’t asked about this. Either she’ll pull a Perez and move to NARAL’s stance or she’ll hold her position-at which point I doubt NARAL will stay quiet.

            In the meantime, I still disagree with this post’s thesis that NARAL saying “Bernie, abortion rights are non-negotiable” is bad politics. I also think it’s reaching in terms of this specific ad’s ties to Perriello and Northam.

          • Hugo Estrada

            I feel uncomfortable about attacking Sanders because it is not an attack on Sanders. It is an attack on the Democratic Party.

            Sanders’ boneheaded statements were made because he was supporting Democratic candidates that the Democratic Party chose, and for whom the Democratic Party asked Sanders to endorse and campaign for.

            Sanders will eventually go away. But create a hard litmus test on candidates, and see how in the next few years young women will not vote for Democrats because they fail their purity test. They will vote Green or not vote at all.

            And whether we like it or not, Democrats are the only option for women’s rights. Keeping GOP in power means more conservative justices and less reproductive rights for women.

            Whether we like it or not, pro-life Democrats are safer for reproductive rights than pro-life Republicans.

          • L

            It was Hillary that was against abortion rights, not Bernie. Source is their own answers during Fox news primary town hall. Maybe you missed that. It was shocking for me how quickly Hillary caved, while Bernie unequivocally stood up for abortion rights in the lions den.
            As an important aside, it is progressives that will win elections for democrats. Don’t diss them so much, they’re the only thing preventing more gop seats. Democrats can stay the course, lose presidential, state governorships, 1000 seats over the last 8 years, or we can get back to our messaging through policy.

          • Hillary Clinton had 100% ratings from NARAL, Planned Parenthood, etc. She was 100% pro choice.