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The Arguments, Messages, and Issues Ahead of Kansas’ Big Abortion Vote


WASHINGTON- If It’s Monday… The Kentucky Flood Toll mounted at 28. … First shipment of grain leaves Ukraine since the Russian blockade. …the Senate Democrats to push to vote on the reconciliation deal this week, but all 50 members need to be in favor and present, NBC’s Sahil Kapur reports. … Democrats also hope to pass legislation blocked by Republicans to help veterans exposed to toxic burning fireplaces. … NBC’s Mike Memoli writing that the Biden White House is gearing up for a tough August. …And Joe Manchin raised eyebrows with response on the mid-points.

But first : Of all the Tuesday contests we’ll cover, the most important may very well be the statewide constitutional amendment on abortion in Kansas.

This is the first election on abortion since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade. And NBC’s Dasha Burns and Abigail Brooks have new reports on the contest, where Kansans will vote either:

“Yes” to amend the state constitution to specify that the right to abortion is not guaranteed (after the state Supreme Court ruled in 2019 that it was);

or “no” to keep the state constitution as it is.

What happens if the “yes” vote wins on Tuesday?

“I think we’ll see [abortion] restrictions very soon. Kansas has long placed abortion at the center of its policy,” Emily Wales, CEO of Planned Parenthood Great Plains, told Burns.

“It sets the stage for future conversations [on abortion bans/restrictions] to be able to happen,” said Danielle Underwood, spokesperson for the Value Them Both Coalition, which leads the “yes” campaign. “I want to see a future where the Kansans are involved in the discussion. Their unelected judges are not deciding for the rest of us the right kinds of abortion limits in our state. … And passing the amendment is for once the only way for us to be involved in this discussion again.

On what the supporters of the “yes” ultimately want if the constitutional amendment passes?

“I hope we will pass the [amendment] August 2. And then we’ll see what happens. Honestly, I do not know. And again, I haven’t told people about it. I don’t really know what the next step is,” said state Rep. Susan Humphries, a Republican.

Why does the vote take place on a primary day in August, rather than a general election?

“I think it’s a very big hurdle for us. I think the decision to put him on the primary ballot was intentional,” said Ashley All, spokesperson for Kansans for Constitutional Freedom, which is leading the “no” effort. “And I think the hope was that fewer Kansans would vote.”

” From our point of view, [August] was a good date to have it, because it allowed enough time for people in Kansas to educate themselves about the amendment so that they would be informed of the veracity of the amendment,” Underwood of Value Them Both countered. “He didn’t get into that cloud of other…activities that surround a general election, to allow the people of Kansas to really focus on this very important question before them.”

Our take: Given Kansas’ political red tinge and August election date, “no” keeping it closed would demonstrate the power the abortion ruling has given Democrats since the overthrow of Roe v. Wade.

And a “no” victory would be quite the statement.

Data download: Today’s figure is… $12.4 million

That’s how much money was spent on ads focused on Kansas’ abortion ballot initiative, according to ad tracking firm AdImpact.

GOP groups supporting the ballot initiative slightly outpaced the group opposing the constitutional amendment, spending nearly $6.4 million of the $6 million Kansans spent on constitutional freedom. The main group supporting the amendment is known as “Value Them Both”.

Kansans for Constitutional Freedom has received funding from national abortion rights groups, including NARAL and Planned Parenthood, according to recent fundraising reports. Value Them Both has received significant donations from several Catholic churches and dioceses, as well as GOP Sen. Jerry Moran’s FreeState PAC.

Other numbers to know:

2: The number of House Republicans who stood up to their party on Friday and backed a bill banning assault weapons.

5: The number of House Democrats who stood up to their party on Friday and opposed a bill banning assault weapons.

14: The number of times a moderate has beaten a progressive in an analysis of 22 Democratic congressional primaries this year, Axios reports.

28: The death toll reported so far in Kentucky following devastating floods. The number is expected to increase in the coming days, Gov. Andy Beshear told Meet the Press on Sunday.

Tweet of the day

Midterm Roundup: All the Way in Michigan

Former President Donald Trump’s last-minute endorsement of conservative commentator Tudor Dixon rocked the GOP primary for Michigan governor, with Michigan voters heading to the polls on Tuesday. Trump plans to hold a tele-rally for Dixon tonight, according to the Detroit News.

Dixon has had a slight lead in recent polls in the race, and she’s also backed by the wealthy DeVos family. (As a reminder, former Trump Education Secretary Betsy DeVos resigned after the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.)

But Dixon’s rise in the GOP primary once seemed unlikely, report Allan Smith and Henry Gomez of NBC News from Taylor, Mich. Dixon was able to take advantage of the chaos in the primary after two leading contenders were blocked from the ballot due to fraudulent signatures on their petitions. And a super PAC funded by the DeVos family helped elevate his candidacy.

The key question for Dixon is: can she win in November?

Elsewhere on the campaign trail:

Arizona Senate: Republicans Blake Masters and Jim Lamon, two of the top candidates in Tuesday’s Senate primary, recently told NBC News’ Vaughn Hillyard that they would have opposed certification of Electoral College votes in 2020 had they been in the Senate.

Pennsylvania Senate: The Senate GOP campaign arm is privately raising concerns about Mehmet Oz’s campaign, Politico reports (although an NRSC spokesperson said after the report’s release that “any implication that we have not fully confidence in the Oz campaign and our chances of winning the PA is false”).

Missouri Senate: The Missouri Senate GOP primary is testing whether disgraced former Governor Eric Greitens can make a comeback, CNN reports.

North Carolina Senate: The Democratic Party has engaged in “bare-knuckle efforts” to remove a Green Party candidate from the ballot in the North Carolina Senate race, reports the Associated Press.

Wisconsin Senate: On Friday, State Treasurer Sarah Godlewski dropped out of the Democratic Senate primary, clearing the way for Lt. Governor Mandela Barnes. This allows Barnes to focus on defeating GOP Senator Ron Johnson, starting with a new ad released Sunday criticizing the senator as “out of touch.”

California-47: NBC News’ Sahil Kapur reports that the Republican is trying to unseat Rep. Katie Porter in this swinging Orange County neighborhood.

Kansas-03: Democratic Rep. Sharice Davids is highlighting Republican opposition to abortion rights in Kansas as a strategy to keep her vulnerable seat in November’s midterm elections, the AP reports.

Michigan-11/Michigan-12: Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., traveled to Michigan over the weekend to rally for Reps. Andy Levin and Rashida Tlaib, two Democrats vying to face the main challengers on Tuesday.

Ad watch: Fighting Democratic interference

Last week, the House Democrats’ campaign arm began airing a television ad in Michigan’s 3rd District to boost John Gibbs, a far-right Trump-backed candidate who is running against the incumbent GOP Rep. Peter Meijer.

An outside group hits back in a new ad, defending Meijer ahead of Tuesday’s primary. The group, Principled Leadership for Michigan, appears to be partially funded by Meijer’s father.

“Fox News confirms it. Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to elect their hand-picked candidate for Congress in the Republican primary, John Gibbs,” the ad’s narrator told viewers.

“West Michigan needs to say no to Nancy Pelosi’s hand-picked candidate for Congress. Say no to John Gibbs,” the narrator continues.

ICYMI: What else is going on in the world?:

President Biden has again tested positive for Covid in a ‘rebound case’.

The DNC postponed its vote on whether to keep Iowa and New Hampshire as the “nation’s first” primaries, pushing back a decision until the end of the midterm.

The New York Times reports Democratic windfalls in gubernatorial contests across the country.



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