“The Party Has Been Beyond Anything I’ve Recognized Right Now”: Abortion Rights Key to Arizona’s Governor’s Race

Since the Pima County judge ruled that Arizona could enforce a almost complete ban on abortionAbortion access has become a major issue hard race Between Republican Kari Lake and Democrat Katie Hobbs will be the next governor of the state.

new one CBS News Battleground Tracker Poll of Potential Arizona Voters Shows Hobbs & Lake tied at 49% with less than five weeks leading up to Election Day. Six in 10 registered voters in Arizona say abortion should be legal in most cases in the state.

In September, a judge overturned a decades-old injunction that had blocked enforcement of the law in force since 1901, a decade before Arizona became a state. The law makes it illegal for anyone to provide an abortion with surgery or drugs and can carry a prison sentence of two to five years.

A few weeks before the November 8 midterm election, the state is energizing Democratic voters and some free-leaning Republicans, whose support may be especially important in the race.

Former Republican state Sen. Heather Carter said Tuesday that she has changed her party registration to independent because her GOP allies hold “extreme” positions on a range of policy issues, including abortion rights.

Carter said in an interview with CBS News, “I’ve been a Republican registered since I was 18, but since I first registered as a Republican, the party has overtaken what it was called. I recognize (from).”

Katie Hobbs, left, and Kari Lake

Brandon Bell / Getty Images Brandon Bell / Getty Images

She said Arizona’s abortion ban “could lead to unintended consequences that are dangerous for women,” and would turn Arizona into a “vigilant state for women seeking health.”

Carter says she is urging Republican voters to cross party lines this fall. “I’m asking you to vote for conscience,” she said.

Abortion is also a major issue in the Arizona Senate race. Democratic incumbent Sen. Mark Kelly is ahead of GOP nominee Blake Masters by 51% to 48%, according to a new CBS News poll.

Like Democratic candidates elsewhere in the country, Kelly enjoys a wide lead among voters who say abortion is too important. More than seven out of 10 potential Arizona voters who say abortion is too important in their vote for the senator prefer Kelly over Masters.

Republican Peggy Neely, a former elected official in Phoenix, said abortion access is the reason she is going to vote for Kelly instead of Masters.

“That’s very extreme,” Neely said. “We can’t have Blake Masters representing us as a woman to ensure our rights are protected.”

Some Republican voters have said they are ready to support Democrats in November because of the abortion rights issue.

“We have to leave women’s bodies alone. As a man, we have no rights, we must remain silent,” said George Santana, a lifelong registered Republican who works in higher education. Speaking with CBS News at a farmers market south of Phoenix, Santana said abortion rights are the main issue that is driving her to vote for Democrats this fall.

For 21-year-old Maddie Merker, a student at Arizona State University, a recent change in abortion law is prompting her to vote for Democrat as well. She said she wanted to hear candidates in the governor’s race talking more about environmental issues, but acknowledged that abortion rights are the main issue driving her vote.

“People are going to have abortions, it’s just if they’re going to do it safely or not, it doesn’t make any sense not to let people do it because it just puts more women at risk so I agree. Can’t be,” Merker said.

A day after the judge’s ruling, Hobbs held a press conference promising to “use every tool at my disposal to restore abortion rights in Arizona.” This made her campaign the best fundraising week of the cycle, with more than $1.2 million in grassroots donations by reproductive rights advocates.

Lake’s campaign has continued to focus on immigration, education and the economy, but the Republican nominee was recently asked about the abortion decision in an appearance on Fox News.

“I am a pro-life,” Lake said. “Democrats have tried to politicize the issue in such a disturbing manner,” he said.

On her campaign website, Lake says, “We must also support those who choose to act responsibly when they are not ready to have children, and that means making all common forms of birth control available over the counter.” and provide support to those who are not ready to have children. Unable to financially pay for their own birth control.”

In Tucson, Lake supporters like Karen Kosha agree that there must be exceptions to abortion, such as rape and incest, “but to use it as birth control, and that’s what a lot of Americans are doing, no, I’m born.” Doesn’t support control by killing children.”

Retired retail worker Jan McSheffery told CBS News that she is a lifelong Republican and would vote for Lake because of her stance on abortion. “Abortion is basically child sacrifice, in my estimation,” McSaffrey said Sunday before a lake event in Tucson.

Small business owner Beth Ruin said she voted for Democrats including Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, but she plans to support the Republican ticket in Arizona this year. She voted for former President Trump in 2016 and 2020, but said she is not a “blind trumper,” adding that she likes Lake because “she’s not afraid to speak her mind.”

Ruin said abortion rights should be left to the states, adding that women in Arizona who want the procedure can always go to California.

“I’m against it, but I also think a lot of women are supported against the wall, so I understand that,” Ruin said.

Two recent polls show Hobbes leading by a single digit less than six weeks from election day. Both polls pointed to abortion rights as one of the top issues for voters.

Abortion is a significant motivation for female voters in Arizona, according to the Suffolk University/Arizona Republic Poll. More than seven in 10 Democratic women ranked the issue as their top priority this year, compared to 49% of independent women and 37% of Republican women.

The close gubernatorial race is also drawing attention from national GOP figures. Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas is holding rallies in the state on Tuesday and Wednesday with Kari Lake and Republican nominee for Senate Blake Masters.

On Sunday, Trump will also campaign for Lake & Masters in Arizona.

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