Jun 29, 2023 - Politics & Policy

New York Dems plan $20 million abortion, equal rights push

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul. Photo: Lev Radin/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

New York Democrats plan to spend at least $20 million to push a sweeping ballot measure in the 2024 elections to codify abortion protections, racial and LGTBQ+ equality, disability rights and more.

Why it matters: The party is investing heavily in a culture-focused strategy to energize their base in elections up and down the ballot.

  • Democrats' unexpectedly strong showing in last year's midterms has widely been credited to a renewed focus on abortion after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

Driving the news: New Yorkers for Equal Rights, the group spearheading the initiative, aims to raise $20 million to spend on TV and digital ads, direct mail programs, grassroots organizing and voter education, according to a fact sheet viewed by Axios.

  • The organization is partnering with a network of unions and left-leaning groups, including Planned Parenthood's issue advocacy arm, the New York Civil Liberties Union and the state's NAACP chapter.
  • A number of prominent New York Democrats are also involved, including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries and Gov. Kathy Hochul.

The details: The state constitutional amendment, placed on the 2024 ballot by the state legislature in January, would ban discrimination on the basis of "ethnicity, national origin, age, disability, and sex.”

  • It would also institute protections for "sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, pregnancy, pregnancy outcomes, and reproductive healthcare and autonomy."
  • The amendment would effectively block state lawmakers from passing new laws restricting abortion.

The state of play: Democrats have identified New York as the key stepping stone in their path back to the House majority.

  • Republicans enjoyed a mini-red wave in the state last year, winning five seats that President Biden won in 2020.
  • Jeffries-aligned House Majority PAC plans to spend at least $45 million in the state, some of which is going to a New York-based "war room."

The backdrop: Recent similar ballot initiatives in the state, albeit with a much smaller scope, have met with considerable electoral success.

  • Last year, even as Gov. Kathy Hochul won reelection by just 6 points and Republicans netted four U.S. House seats, voters approved a measure to establish an office of racial equality by a 40-point margin.
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