Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
August 1, 2014

Washington: Suzan DelBene and John Koster Fight Over Women

Washington: Suzan DelBene and John Koster Fight Over Women

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee launched an ad buy targeting GOP nominee John Koster. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

As in many races around the country, female voters are being fought over in Washington state’s 1st district, where the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee this week launched a $250,000 ad buy targeting GOP nominee John Koster’s strong opposition to abortion.

Koster “wanted to eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood entirely,” warns a lab-coated female doctor identified as “Dr. Susan Harvey” in the DCCC ad, which hit the airwaves Oct. 2. “He’d make all forms of abortion illegal, including cases of incest and rape, even when the mother’s life is in danger.”

The ad, which concludes, “John Koster’s just too extreme for me,” comes on the heels of a similar $380,000 ad run by House Majority PAC, a pro-Democrat super PAC. Launched on Sept. 28, the House Majority PAC ad features wistful images of women and a voice-over that spotlights Koster’s abortion stance and assails him for supporting “an agenda so radical it’s hard to believe.”

The open-seat race pits Koster, a Snohomish County councilman, against Democrat Suzan DelBene, former director of the state’s Department of Revenue, and is considered one of the most competitive in the Pacific Northwest. The redrawn 1st district is also one of the nation’s most evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats.

A mid-September poll done for King5 TV showed Koster statistically tied with DelBene, 46 percent to 42 percent — within the margin of error. The poll also found the two essentially dead even among women, with DelBene statistically tied with Koster by 1 point, 44 percent to 43 percent. The tie among female voters “will not be a reality on Election Day,” predicted DelBene spokesman Viet Shelton.

Koster prominently features his wife on his website, preceding his own bio with “A Special Message to Women from Vicki Koster.” A testimonial reminiscing about the couple’s 41 years together and hailing Koster’s “honesty and his principled nature” accompanies a photo of the couple. Koster’s website also touts his “100 percent pro-life voting record.”

The race, which Roll Call rates as Leans Democratic, has drawn in both national political party committees and outside groups. DelBene is one of the Red to Blue candidates getting special DCCC financial and strategic help. The National Republican Congressional Committee named Koster a “Contender” last month in its Young Guns program.

DelBene’s campaign clearly is banking on women to give her a lead in the dead-heat race. The Democratic women’s PAC EMILY’s List endorsed DelBene in August. DelBene also invited Sandra Fluke, the Georgetown Law Center graduate who gained national prominence after Rush Limbaugh lambasted her on his radio talk show, to campaign with her last week.

Said Shelton: “I think there is a national conversation about women’s reproductive health and women’s issues in general.”

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