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Langevin and Abortion Politics

Ernest Greco, the latest Democratic entry in the other Congressional race - you know the race for Representative James Langevin's seat - will probably have a hard time gaining traction against his better known primary foes: the incumbent, who is pro-life, and former State Representative Betsy Dennigan, who is pro-choice.

But his candidacy does shed light on Langevin's frayed relationship with pro-life partisans. Greco - a pro-life candidate who supports the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman - has won the endorsement of the Rhode Island Right to Life Committee.

A brief item in the ProJo had this quote from the committee's executive director:

“His understanding of complex issues and his intense interest in serving the people of Rhode Island is apparent to anyone who has met him or heard him speak,” said Barth Bracy, the committee’s executive director. “And as one of the original signatories of the Rhode Island Declaration on Life, Marriage and Religious Liberty, Ernie knows what being pro-life means and entails.”

Bracy was out of town today and unavailable for comment. But a piece on a pro-life news site, lifenews.com, suggests that Langevin's support for stem cell research is among the reasons for the committee's break with Rhode Island's only pro-life Congressman. No doubt Langevin's vote for a health care reform bill that pro-lifers believe will allow for federal funding of abortion didn't help.

Langevin's campaign issued this statement:

"While he appreciates the past support of Rhode Island Right to Life, Congressman Langevin respects the decision of any group to endorse any candidate. He will continue to work hard to make the case the the Second Congressional District voters that he has, and will continue to be, a strong and effective voice for them in Washington on a wide range of issues. The Congressman is proud of his record in the House and looks forward to making his case directly to the voters throughout the summer."

The loss of the committee's endorsement could mean the loss of some volunteer support, campaign contributions, and even votes. But in a pro-choice state like Rhode Island, a Right to Life endorsement could actually be a liability - particularly in a race against a pro-choice woman. Indeed, the committee's decision to back Greco may help Langevin strike an advantageous, centrist posture in the race.

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