So many hundreds of calls bombarded the governor’s office in opposition to the ban on abortion as early as six weeks into a pregnancy that workers couldn’t physically log all the complaints into a computerized system.
Staffers scribbled opponents’ names onto handwritten sheets of paper, documenting an angry flood of people who could potentially upend the second term chances of the Deep South’s only Democratic governor.
“Will lose my vote if he does not veto this bill,” one caller declared, according to documents provided to The Associated Press in partial response to a public records request. “Wanted the governor to know that if he doesn’t oppose it, she will not be voting for him,” another caller was recorded as saying.
Months later, Edwards is hoping the heat of that moment has passed and that abortion rights voters, many of whom make up the Democratic base he needs to win, won’t judge him solely for that signature in Saturday’s election.
“What I’m encouraging everybody to do is to look at the totality of the issues … what I’ve actually done over the first four years and then vote for the candidate with whom you agree more often than not,” the governor said in an interview.
As they try to build a sustained campaign against efforts to curb access, abortion rights advocates have had trouble keeping
Edwards faces two main Republican challengers:
Polls show Edwards well ahead of his competitors, with Abraham and Rispone trying to force him into a runoff. In
Although the Democratic incumbent deviates sharply from his
Edwards, a Catholic, ran as an anti-abortion candidate four years ago. His position, while out of step with the national Democratic Party, is considered one of the issues that helped him win over voters in a red state where every other statewide elected official is a Republican. Since taking office in 2016, Edwards has backed multiple abortion restrictions.
But the ban that Edwards signed into law in May drew more vocal outrage.
Edwards said the bill signing was consistent with his “pro-life positions,” which he said also included expanding
Fierce criticism came from
“I just didn’t think he would sign something so prohibitive. God, not even in cases of incest? That just went too far, even if he is pro-life,” said
Toledo was among the deluge of callers in May who told Edwards’ office he “would lose her vote” by signing the abortion ban into law. But five months later, while Toledo said the bill signing still stings, she’s planning to vote again for Edwards. She said she couldn’t support his “pro-Trump” opponents.
“It’s just the lack of better options,” Toledo said.
That appears to be Edwards’ key selling point to disgruntled abortion rights voters: They don’t have another major candidate in the
Even as they advocate for abortion rights across the country, Democratic Party organizations are spending millions encouraging their base to show up in full force for Edwards on
“I feel like I’m fighting the same thing my grandmother fought and my mother fought, and that’s very sad to me,” she said.
But Kambeitz-Byrd grudgingly selected Edwards in the weeklong early voting period.
“It was painful to cast that vote,” she said. “I just wish that there had been alternatives for us here to choose from.”