Women have been warned in a Planned Parenthood Action Fund email that Alaska Republican Dan Sullivan, who is running for the U.S. Senate, and three other GOPs could “affect their sex lives.”
The warning came from Lena Dunham, the creator and start of the HBO series Girls. In the email Dunham urged women to remember Thom Tillis, who’s challenging Sen. Kay Hagan (D) in North Carolina, “stuck a bunch of abortion restrictions into a bill that was supposed to be about motorcycle safety.”
She also wrote that Joni Ernst, a Republican from Iowa running for the Senate who made hog castration (cutting pork) the focus of her first advertising campaign, “has tried to block women from getting…what they need at Planned Parenthood health clinics.”
Dunham wrote that Rep. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), who is running for the seat of Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.), “is all about letting your boss tell you what kind of birth control your insurance should cover.”
But the worst, as far as Dunham sees it, is Sullivan of Alaska, “who just outright refuses to reveal whether he supports the Violence Against Women Act.”
Planned Parenthood is wrapping itself around Dunham’s email, telling women to vote like their sex lives depended on it.
The organization included a quote from Dunham in another of its recent emailings: “I vote because the number of backwards, out-of-touch, downright freaking unbelievably anti-women’s health politicians out there right now makes my blood boil. The crazy and depressing truth is that there are people running for office right now who could actually affect your life. PARTICULARLY your sex life. PARTICULARLY if you’re a woman.”
Sullivan is no stranger to the wrath of women’s rights advocates.
Immediately after Sullivan won the August primary over Mead Treadwell, Planned Parenthood Action Fund spent $65,000 in television, Internet and social media advertising in Alaska attacking his position on abortion.
“The road to an anti-abortion Senate runs through Alaska — and with the support of our volunteers, supporters, and donors, Planned Parenthood Action Fund will not let Dan Sullivan drive us down that road,” Dawn Laguens, the executive vice president of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, said in a statement.
One series of ads reads: “Dan Sullivan would let the government control what you do with your body.” A second reads: “Dan Sullivan can’t be trusted. He refuses to say if he supports the Violence Against Women Act.” A third said: “Dan Sullivan supports banning nearly all abortions for Alaska women.”
“We are wasting no time in reaching out to Alaska women. That’s why we’ve launched our biggest digital ad campaign so far this year to ensure voters know exactly where Dan Sullivan stands on issues important to women’s health and rights,” Laguens added.
It was the largest ad buy the organization made until six-figure campaigns were launched in September against Ernst and Gardner.
The anti-Sullivan ads appeared on social media and several statewide news sites, including the Juneau Empire, Alaska Dispatch, and Anchorage Dispatch News, among other local outlets.
Sullivan’s opponent, Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska), has tried to use Sullivan’s antiabortion stance to his advantage.
The Begich campaign ran a TV ad, “Alaska Women Need To Know”, in August targeting both Sullivan and primary opponent Mead Treadwell for their opposition to funding for Planned Parenthood and abortion, as well as their support for the idea of allowing employers to decide if their insurance plans would cover birth control products.
Still, Sullivan is not shying away from his conservative theme.
In his latest TV ad, “Wrong for Alaska,” Sullivan knocked Begich for his liberalism, raising property taxes as mayor of Anchorage, supporting President Obama “97 percent of the time” and casting the deciding vote for Obamacare.
Sullivan has also accused Begich, in the TV ad “Lame Tricks,” of faking a ride on a snowmobile to prove he was a real Alaskan. Begich told Sullivan, who was born in Ohio, that he had the frostbite to prove he really was on the snowmobile.
While Sullivan can’t claim Alaskan roots, his wife can, and she did in the ad “Roots.”
No matter who was born where, Sullivan has only had to look over his shoulder at Begich after winning the Alaska GOP Senate primary. The former U.S. Marine led Begich in the CBS News/New York Times/YouGov poll that was released Sept. 2 by 6 points, 44-38 percent.
The GOP-leaning Rasmussen Reports poll released Sept. 25 showed Sullivan with a 5-point lead over Begich.
Sullivan’s lead dropped to a 3-point margin in the Democrat-leaning Public Policy Polling survey that was released Sept. 21, but he was still in the lead 43-41 points and PPP called the race a toss-up.
The PPP survey showed Sullivan had gained 6 points since the last Public Policy Polling survey in early August, while Begich dropped 2 points.
Dean Debnam, the president of PPP, said Sullivan was able to consolidate his support among voters likely to vote Republican after winning the primary.
However, RealClearPolitics is still calling the Begich-Sullivan race a toss-up and Debnam said, “Alaska’s going to keep political watchers up late on election night.”
As overstated as Debnam’s forecast might sound, it is an understatement.
Because of the remoteness of many towns and villages in Alaska, it could be days or even weeks, not hours, before the results of Alaska’s November election are finalized.