Of the 22 Republican senators who voted against VAWA, those who are up for re-election in 2014 are unlikely to face serious Democratic opposition. There are more vulnerable Republicans in the House, where Speaker John Boehner said Thursday that “no decision has been made” about taking up the bill.
In a sign some House Republicans realize the potential political repercussions of the debate, Rep. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia is urging her colleagues to back the bill. “Especially in communities like West Virginia where victims of domestic violence and sexual assault in rural and remote communities face unique obstacles in their efforts to escape abusive and dangerous relationships, support provided by VAWA can literally be lifesaving,” Capito, who is running for the seat of retiring Democratic Sen. Jay Rockefeller in 2014, said in a written statement.
VAWA is also cropping up in the 2013 gubernatorial races. In New Jersey, where Christie is a strong favorite for re-election, his female challenger is under pressure to erode his popularity with women voters. "By allowing the act to expire in January, House Republicans have turned their backs on New Jersey,” Buono said in new appeal to supporters. “I have fought to protect women and their families.”
Women’s issues are likely to be even more pronounced in the Virginia governor’s race, which pits Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, who has crusaded for stricter regulations on abortion clinics, against Terry McAuliffe, the former national chairman of the Democratic Party. The state became ground zero for the “war on women” attacks last year after the Republican-led state legislature and Gov. Bob McDonnell backed a law requiring women to undergo ultrasounds before receiving abortions. On Thursday, a liberal group called ProgressVA accused McDonnell of trying to block Virginia residents from buying insurance policies that cover abortion under a new federal healthcare exchange.
“I think abortion will be one of the top issues in the governor’s race because you’ve seen the extreme right wing in Virginia making decisions and Cuccinelli making a career out of attacking women’s health,” said Anna Scholl, ProgressVa executive director. “As we saw in last year’s election, women find these attacks on them distasteful.”