Rachel Barnhart has an interesting quote from a GOP strategist on how Maggie Brooks’ social conservatism will play in the NY-25 race:
Brooks’ position on social issues could factor big into the race. One GOP insider told me “east side Monroe County Republican women” are very moderate and may not go for a pro-lifer. This person thought the abortion issue could bring a lot of outside campaign money into the race on both sides.
As Rachel points out, there’s no real polling to back up that conjecture, but the history of recent Congressional races in this area has shown that the abortion issue isn’t used much by Republicans. For example, the current NY-29, which includes the southeast suburbs of Rochester, had a couple of recent contested races where abortion was mentioned but didn’t become a major issue. In those races, Randy Kuhl was able to squeak by using the strategy that Brooks is using, namely, to say that he is pro-life but not mention any details about what that means in terms of voting or policy. Kuhl was helped by Eric Massa’s reluctance to engage on that issue in a district that’s a lot more conservative than even the new NY-25.
The difference in this race is that Slaughter, who is a co-chair of the Congressional Pro-Choice Caucus, is already fully engaged, and the Republican Party has become more stridently anti-abortion in the last few years. I still don’t think we’ll see a full-on proxy battle between pro-life and pro-choice groups since Brooks is clearly signaling that she won’t lead the pro-life charge, but we may see more independent spending than in other recent races because of Slaughter’s position as a full-throated pro-choice advocate.