Election Day

November 02, 2010

Today is election day (hope you did not forget). It will be interesting to see how things turn out and where we will go from here. It will especially be interesting to see the results in several races where religious groups have been campaigning. Such religious-political efforts are an important part of campaigns in our age of confessional politics. Here are a few of the religious groups that have been engaging in partisan politics lately:

Faith and Freedom Coalition, the group started by former Christian Coalition leader (and Jack Abramoff buddy) Ralph Reed, jumped into the middle of 18 races across the country (dropping $500,000 over the past week). The ads, which support Republican candidates, urge people to "vote faith" and remember that "it's us versus them." Among the targeted Democrats are: Harry Reid (Nevada), Ciro Rodriguez (Texas), Paul Kanjorski (Pennsylvania), Jerry McNerney and Loretta Sanchez (California), Tom Perriello (Virginia), Sanford Bishop and Jim Marshall (Georgia), John Spratt (South Carolina), John Boccieri (Ohio), Allen Boyd and Ron Klein (Florida), John Salazar (Colorado), Leonard Boswell (Iowa) and Lincoln Davis (Tennessee).

Matthew 25, a progressive religious-political group, has continued its work of campaigning for just one candidate (it started in 2008 to push Barack Obama's candidacy). This year, they ran ads for freshman U.S. Representative Tom Perriello (Virginia). The ad praises him for being one of the "leaders who share our values" and noted that "his Christian upbringing inspired a lifetime of service to his country and his community." After narrowly winning in a conservative district two years ago, Perriello faces a difficult reelection bid. He also has enjoyed the support of some local liberal religious leaders who have campaigned for him.

Family Research Council (as I previously noted) has been targeting twenty pro-life Democrats who voted for health care reform earlier this year, which includes Perriello. They also cut a last-minute ad attacking freshman Republican Joseph Cao of New Orleans. Cao, who is one of the few Republican incumbents who might lose, is a former Jesuit seminarian. The FRC attacked him in a recent ad for supposedly being pro-gay rights, even though they acknowledge that his Democratic opponent would be no better. With polls suggesting Cao losing, this last-minute ad might merely be a chance for the FRC to claim it is being bi-partisan in his targets.

Susan B. Anthony List, a pro-life group that has also been targeting pro-life Democrats who voted for health care reform, recently found itself in trouble in Ohio because of one of its ads. One of those targeted Democrats, Representative Steve Driehaus, filed a complaint against the group for running ads falsely claiming the health care reform bill he voted for included abortion funding. The Ohio Elections Commission gave an initial ruling in his favor, with another hearing to come where possible penalties could be imposed on the group.

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