Riordan’s Support for Abortion Rights May Be ‘Key’ in Gubernatorial Race
Richard Riordan, the former mayor of Los Angeles and one of three candidates running for California's Republican gubernatorial nomination in March, has "made clear" his support for abortion rights and public funding of abortion, two positions that may win him support among "disillusioned" GOP female voters who support abortion rights, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Although Riordan has described himself as personally "anti-abortion," he "underscored his strong support for abortion rights" in a recent interview with the Chronicle. "I'm in favor of the right for women to make their own moral choice. I believe economically disadvantaged women should have access to medical funds, so they have the same right to make the choice as any other woman," Riordan said, noting that women do not have a choice "unless they have the wherewithal (to pay for an abortion)." He also noted that the "vast majority" of Republican women favor abortion rights. However, the GOP has "lost most of them" in recent elections by taking a stance against abortion, he noted. Riordan has proven popular with women voters before. Candy Straight, president of the WISH List, a Washington-based abortion-rights lobby for GOP women, noted that 59% of women voters supported Riordan in his last election. Riordan is scheduled to speak today at a WISH List fund raising event that is expected to generate $100,000 for the group.
Riordan's support for abortion rights could hurt him with conservative voters, according to Jeff Flint, a strategist working on Republican businessman Bill Simon's gubernatorial campaign. "GOP primary voters are probably the most pro-life subset of the whole electorate you can find ... and married GOP women are probably the most pro-life group of all. I don't think the evidence supports the suggestion that a lot of (Republican) women have walked away," Flint said. However, a September WISH List poll of 800 likely Republican primary voters showed that 41% of voters who identified themselves as "pro-life" said they would not seek to "meddle" with a woman's right to choose. Flint noted that Simon, who runs Covenant House, an organization that helps teenagers in need, "can't be portrayed as a heartless guy who wants to tell women what to do with their lives," even though he opposes abortion rights. The third candidate, Secretary of State Bill Jones -- also "strongly against" abortion rights -- has "eschewed the hard-line stance," conceding that abortion is legal, the Chronicle reports (Marinucci, San Francisco Chronicle, 12/5).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.