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IN FOCUS - Apr 12, 2024

It was an earthquake.

There’s no better description for this week’s Arizona Supreme Court decision, which upheld a territorial-era abortion ban and turned state politics on its ear. Suddenly, MAGA king Donald Trump himself was urging for the law to be repealed, as Senate candidate Kari Lake reportedly lobbied legislators to replace the law with a previous 15-week abortion prohibition.

Post-Dobbs, the specter of a law that makes no allowances for abortion even in the case of rape or incest likely “supercharges” support for an abortion-rights initiative this fall, as well as like-minded Democratic candidates up and down the ballot, speculated Democratic Attorney General Kris Mayes. Meanwhile, a pollster for President Biden called the court ruling “dynamic-changing” in terms of his hopes to again win Arizona’s 11 electoral votes. The Biden campaign wasted no time in hitting state airwaves with an ad highlighting the court decision and its impact on women.

For their part, Arizona Republicans find themselves splintered and without a unified message. Moderates and candidates for statewide office, like Lake and Trump, desperately need the territorial law shelved and discussions shifted to more GOP-friendly territory: border security, inflation and the economy. Conservatives, including those represented by the Arizona Freedom Caucus, rejected that calculation this week with a statement: “We will not compromise on the core value of cherishing and protecting life.”

All of which leaves Arizona Republican lawmakers in a very unfamiliar and challenging spot: needing help from Democrats.

They may be waiting a long time if Democrats take their cue from strategist James Carville.


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