GOP candidate Scott Jensen downplays importance of abortion in Minnesota gubernatorial race – Reuters

ST. PAUL — Minnesota Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Jensen is downplaying abortion as an issue in the 2022 election, running an ad this week insisting his Democratic opponent, Gov. Tim Walz , “arms” the problem in the campaign.

In the past, Jensen and his running mate Matt Birk have both said they oppose abortion in all cases except when a mother’s life is threatened, which the Walz campaign and d Other Democrats rushed after the U.S. Supreme Court ended federal abortion protections in June. Incumbent Walz pledged to protect abortion rights in Minnesota following the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

The Jensen campaign in July tried to clarify that it supported exceptions for abortion in cases of rape and incest, but in a new ad in September it appeared to attempt to move past the issue entirely. In a video uploaded to Facebook on Wednesday, September 7, Jensen, holding a baby in his arms, begins by saying he’s delivered over 500 babies in his career before calling the abortion issue a “divisive “.

“In Minnesota, it’s a protected constitutional right, and no governor can change that,” said Jensen, a Chaska family physician and former state senator. “And I’m not racing to do that. I’m running because we need safe streets, great schools, parental rights, and more money in the family budget.

The right to abortion in Minnesota remains protected by the 1995 state Supreme Court decision Doe v. Gomez, limiting the ability of opponents to pass laws restricting procedure.

Jensen has softened or limited his statements on abortion since ousting Roe in June. In an interview with Minnesota Public Radio this spring, he said he would try to ban abortion and did not support exceptions. The day the United States Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, Lieutenant Governor candidate Matt Birk told an anti-abortion group he does not support abortion for rape victims because “two wrongs won’t make a right.”

But in July, Jensen and Birk appeared in a video where Jensen described his past comments about his positions on abortion as “awkward” and described

a plan to support women

including policies such as adoption tax credits and support for family and maternity leave.

David Schultz, professor of political science at Hamline University, said Jensen’s ad shows an effort to downplay the issue of reproductive rights and an attempt to move on.

“Now I don’t think he’ll be successful on this one and the reason for that is he’s evolved a lot in what, two or three months on the matter,” he said. “I think voters are going to start asking the question, well, you know, where is he really on this issue?”

Jensen’s message on abortion prompted a challenge on Wednesday from doctors with the Committee for the Protection of Health Care, a political advocacy group that supports expanding access to abortion.

“Dr. Scott Jensen has repeatedly stated that he supports banning abortions and that he will not make exceptions for rape or incest,” said Dr. Dawn Ellison, a retired emergency physician , later adding, “The people of Minnesota deserve to hear Dr. Scott Jensen’s position on abortion…and they have the right to get the health care they need without political interference.”

Along with crime and public safety, abortion is becoming a central issue for many voters in the 2022 election. Following Roe’s unseating in June and slowing inflation, a major poll shows fortunes turn against Jensen.

At KSTP-TV and SurveyUSA

poll released Tuesday

showed that Walz had taken a double-digit lead over Scott Jensen – 51% to 33%. The poll of more than 500 likely voters was conducted from August 30 to September 30. 4, with 35% identifying as Democrats, 35% as Republicans and 26% as independents. A May survey by news broadcaster Twin Cities had Walz at 44% and Jensen at 39%.

Schultz said while polls can sometimes differ dramatically from the end result of a race, Walz’s 18-point lead is likely tied to the governor’s success in using the abortion issue against Jensen in a state where the majority of people support access to the procedure.

“At this point, you have to think that the move from the May ballot to the current ballot is partly about his stance on abortion and Walz’s success in terms of casting, or painting against abortion rights. .,” Schultz said.

Part of Walz’s advantage is a significant fundraising advantage that allows for consistent advertising, Schultz explained. Jensen’s campaign is far behind Walz in fundraising, according to Minnesota Campaign Finance Board reports released July 25. Those filings showed Walz had nearly $5 million in cash, compared to about $580,000 for Jensen.

Jensen’s campaign, which has focused more on his social media presence to get his message across, this week announced a “seven-figure ad buy” for the month of September, though that amount is still eclipsed by resources from the Walz campaign. Alliance for a Better Minnesota, an independent group that supports Walz, has spent more than $1 million on ads against Jensen since August. September is the first month that Jensen aired television advertising for his campaign.

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