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Planned Parenthood to Spend at Least $20 Million on Midterm Elections

Cecile Richards at the Planned Parenthood 100th Anniversary Gala / Getty Images
• March 1, 2018 12:14 pm

Planned Parenthood is rolling out its largest campaign ever for a midterm election this year, focusing on eight states with close races for state and federal offices.

The organization's political entities, Planned Parenthood Action Fund and Planned Parenthood Votes, are set to spend $20 million on elections in those eight states, and officials told CNN that number is likely to climb even higher before Election Day. Planned Parenthood chose to target states with competitive Senate and governor's races as a part of a "two-for-one" strategy to shape Congress and also help Democrats in 2020 redistricting efforts.

"This is our last chance to flip some of those governors' seats before redistricting," said Deirdre Schifeling, executive director of Planned Parenthood Votes. "A lot of those states have governors who have been terrible for women, terrible for access to reproductive health care."

The initial eight states being targeted are Arizona, Florida, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

Planned Parenthood's cash makes it one of the Democratic Party's largest outside spenders. The Women's March after President Donald Trump's inauguration, and its one-year anniversary march this year, helped raise the organization's profile, and Republicans have failed to defund the nation's largest abortion provider, despite their pledges to do so.

According to CNN, Planned Parenthood sees Arizona and Nevada as particularly important: Sen. Jeff Flake (R., Ariz.) is stepping down, while Sen. Dean Heller (R., Nev.) is running for reelection in a state that Hillary Clinton won in 2016. Planned Parenthood argues that former Nevada Rep. Joe Heck fell in his 2016 Senate bid because he supported defunding the organization.

Some House races in California, New Jersey, New York, and Texas may also be targets in 2018.

Planned Parenthood is also supporting pro-choice candidates in some Democratic primaries, such as Marie Newman, who is running against pro-life Illinois Rep. Dan Lipinski.

The group's digital program in these states will focus on engaging voters that are young, minorities, and female, and the organization hopes it will foster greater activism.