MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The only woman running for U.S. Senate in battleground Wisconsin hoped to separate herself from her Democratic challengers on Thursday by being the first on the air with an ad hitting incumbent Republican Sen. Ron Johnson for supporting the expected overturning of Roe v. Wade.
Sarah Godlewski recorded the ad in Washington, D.C., outside of the U.S. Supreme Court after the leak of a Supreme Court draft opinion that would overturn the landmark 1973 abortion that legalized abortion nationwide.
The Senate race in nearly evenly divided Wisconsin is one of the most hotly contested in the country, with majority control of the split Senate at stake. Abortion rights will be a key issue in the race, with Democrats hoping anger over the potential overturning of Roe v. Wade will motivate voters to deny Johnson a third term.
Johnson, who has supported bills limiting access to abortions, on Tuesday went further than some Republicans have since the opinion leaked. He said in a statement that if the draft ruling overturning Roe v. Wade becomes final, “I would agree with that outcome.” Many other Republicans have been less direct, instead lambasting that the draft ruling was leaked instead of directly addressing the opinion's merits.
Godlewski, who polls have shown is trailing in the crowded Democratic primary, goes right after Johnson in her new ad.
“I’m at the Supreme Court, where it looks like Ron Johnson is gonna get exactly what he wants,” she says in front of the court. “Overturning Roe v Wade. Reinstating Wisconsin’s cruel abortion ban. And putting doctors in jail.”
Wisconsin has an 1849 law on the books that would make the performing of an abortion a felony, except to save the life of the mother, but that is trumped by the federal right to an abortion established by Roe. That state ban is expected to be challenged in court if Roe is overturned.
Godlewski's campaign said the ad is running statewide as part of a six-figure buy. Wisconsin's primary is Aug. 9.
Godlewski, the state treasurer, is the only candidate in the Wisconsin's Senate race who is endorsed by Emily's List, a group that backs female candidates who support abortion rights. She was in Washington, D.C., on Monday to participate in an Emily's List conference when the draft memo was leaked.
She capitalized on that by holding a news conference Monday night outside the court and recording the ad, the first by a Senate candidate in Wisconsin since the leak.
Other top Democratic candidates — Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, Milwaukee Bucks executive Alex Lasry and Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson — have similar positions in support of abortion rights. Barnes has been the frontrunner, but a Marquette University Law School poll released last week showed that the race is tightening.