The Washington Post

Right wing culture warriors march into Wisconsin recall battle

Guess what: The Wisconsin recall battles aren’t just about budget cuts, collective bargaining and union rights. They’re now about the culture wars, too.

In a development that raises the stakes in the Wiconsin recall fight, a number of religious conservative groups — anti-abortion, anti-gay rights, and pro-intelligent design organizations — have quietly joined the fray in Wisconsin, blanketing the state with flyers and TV ads backing GOP recall targets and aggressively attacking their Dem challengers.

Even national groups are getting involved: Ralph Reed’s group has dropped mailers in the state supporting Republican state senators that are facing recall elections. This is a big deal, because it suggests another motive driving those who want to keep the state senate in GOP hands: It would give a boost to socially conservative causes, and not just economic ones.

Here, for instance, is a mailer that’s being distributed by the anti-abortion group Wisconsin Right to Life, which insists that what’s really at stake in the recall wars is the “rights of the unborn”:

Susan Armacost, the legislative director for Wisconsin Right to Life, tells me that the group is involved in the recall wars because Planned Parenthood is active, too — and said that keeping the state senate in GOP hands would be better for the anti-abortion cause.

That’s because anti-abortion forces in Wisconsin are pushing the state to opt out of Federally funded family planning money as part of the exchanges set up under the Affordable Care Act. The group is also pushing a state-level measure that would more strictly regulate abortion.

National groups are involved, too. Here is a flyer — sent over by the labor-backed We Are Wisconsin — that’s being distributed by Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition, detailing the positions of vulnerable GOP state senator Luther Olsen and his Dem recall challenger, Fred Clark:

And cultural right wing groups are airing TV ads, too. Check out this remarkable attack ad being run against the same Democrat by a group called Wisconsin Family Action — it accues the Dem of being a reckless driver who seriously injured a cyclist:

Wisconsin Family Action, it turns out, is a group that lobbies against gay marriage and favors teaching intelligent design in schools. I had hoped to ask the group why keeping Republicans in charge of the Wisconsin state senate would give a boost to these causes, but the group didn’t return my call.

As if the stakes weren’t high enough in the recall fight, now the culture wars have come to Wisconsin, too.

UPDATE: Posted edited slightly for accuracy.

Greg Sargent writes The Plum Line blog, a reported opinion blog with a liberal slant -- what you might call “opinionated reporting” from the left.


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