WASHINGTON — Kansans voted by wide margins to reject a ballot measure Tuesday that would have allowed state lawmakers to ban abortion. In one of the most conservative states in the country, 63 percent of voters rejected the measure.
“It was a gut punch,” Kansas Sen. Roger Marshall (R) told Latino Rebels on Wednesday. “I’m just emotionally reeling from it. I’m surprised. I’m shocked. I made a lifetime out of protecting the life of moms and babies, and voting down this amendment is going to cost moms and babies their lives. But I respect the process and will try to figure out what’s next.”
“It’s something that you can’t dismiss,” said Sen. Mike Braun (R-IN) when asked if the issue of abortion rights could cost Republicans seats in November’s midterm elections. “I was surprised at the margin, especially in a state that would be considered conservative.”
“What do we do with that information? I don’t know,” Braun added. “But I was surprised it was that lopsided.”
Republican Sen. Marco Rubio (FL), Ben Sasse (NE), and Chuck Grassley (IA) declined to answer when asked about the Kansas election, with Grassley saying he wouldn’t answer any questions without his aide present.
By midday on Wednesday, Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) said that he still hadn’t heard anything about the Kansas vote the night before. “I’m, like, clueless because I just have my mind on other things,” he said.
Sen. Richard Burr (R-AL) said he did not believe the Kansas vote indicates a scenario where Republicans lose seats after the midterm. “I don’t think so,” said Burr, “because that was not an election on individuals.”
Retiring Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) had the most to say of any of the lawmakers approached by Latino Rebels about the Kansas vote.
“I think that while there are some voters will be motivated by that,” Blunt said of abortion rights, “a lot more voters are going to be motivated by this outrageous inflation, the cost of housing, what it takes to keep your family anywhere near the level of spendable dollars that they had two years ago—and everybody’s aware of that.”
“So there are a lot of things that motivate voters,” Blunt continued. “But the survival of your family economically is usually at the top of any list.”
Asked specifically if the Kansas vote might be a bellwether for the midterm, Blunt replied: “I think I answered your question.”
Meanwhile, Senate Democrats say the abortion vote in Kansas is indicative of how important the issue has become for voters.
“Look, for women who have seen a basic constitutional right roll back, they’re not thinking about this in political terms, and neither am I,” said Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA). “Healthcare is a human right and people need access to care. That’s the human consequences of policies that people make, and I will continue to stand up for women’s reproductive rights.”
Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) echoed Warnock. “I think the majority of American people —the center of American politics— believes in women’s reproductive rights, and that’s true whether you’re an R, D, or an I,” he said, referring to the three main voter categories in the United States.
Pablo Manríquez is the Capitol Hill correspondent for Latino Rebels. Twitter: @PabloReports