The Central New Jersey Home News from New Brunswick, New Jersey on November 9, 1989 · 6
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The Central New Jersey Home News from New Brunswick, New Jersey · 6

New Brunswick, New Jersey
Issue Date:
Thursday, November 9, 1989
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A6 STATE THE HOME NEWS THURSDAY NOVEMBER 9. 1989 Some saw abortion as crucial election key By ELIZABETH MITCHELL Home News staff writer Hitting New Jersey politics like a hurricane, abortion swept out well-worn campaign strategies, leaving the Republican Party to clean up the debris of twin losses of the Statehouse and Assembly. With a key Supreme Court decision coming as the election season began, candidates could no longer bury themselves in the murky, middle ground on an issue now at the forefront of national and state politics. Following a high court decision in July that shifted abortion restrictions back to the states, a half-dozen candidates for state Assembly openly rejected the endorsement of the state's Pro-Life Political Action Committee. Six other candidates swung to the pro-choice side before the election Tuesday and another four fortified their abortion-rights positions. "We now have an Assembly that is pro-choice," said Jeanne Fox, who heads the Women's Political Caucus in New Jersey. Fox said the number of clearly defined legislators who are pro-choice climbed from between 23 or 27, to 41 on Tuesday. "That's a significant change," she said. Among those who leapt over the fence before the polls closed were Republican Assemblyman Frank LoBiondo, in the 1st District, and Democratic Assemblyman John ' Paul Doyle in the 10th District, Fox said. The 10th District was also the site of a pro-life upset by challenger Marlene Lynch Ford, a strong pro-choice candidate who beat an anti-abortion incumbent, Robert Singer, by more than 2,000 votes. Fox said other candidates, such as Republican Assemblyman Joann Smith, R-Middlesex, a longtime pro-lifer, sounded a pro-choice message as the election wore on. Smith did not include the endorsement she received from the Pro-Life PAC on campaign literature that listed other endorsements. In addition, abortion-rights groups were buoyed by several surprise victories Tuesday, among them candidate Neil Cohen's victory in the 21st District, which had been widely considered pro-life turf. Cohen, the only candidate in that contest to favor abortion rights, delivered a strongly pro-choice message. In the 2nd District, incumbent J. . Edward Kline, an Atlantic County Republican, suffered a surprise defeat to Democrat Fred Scerni by 858 votes. Fox said the Women's Political Caucus did not know Kline's views on abortion and had supported Scerni, who is pro-choice. The 6th District is also being touted as a pro-choice victory, but that race was so close that a recount is likely. In the 6th, Democratic challenger Barbara Berman, who is pro-choice, appeared to have defeated incumbent Thomas Shust-ed, a pro-lifer. "I think there were very clear instances where abortion really made a difference (in Assembly races)," said Emma Byrne, executive director of the state Democratic Committee. "It was not so much how they dealt with the issue immediately as it was what their position was. All Assembly candidates did not have that level of media attention and they weren't forced to respond in the same way that the gubernatorial candidates were." Conversely, Byrne and other analysts said the way abortion was handled had a much more profound impact on the two gubernatorial candidates, Reps. Jim Courter, a pro-life Republican, and Jim Florio, a pro-choice Democrat, than their individual views on the issue. "I think the impact that issue had on this race was on the weekend Webster came down. The way Congressman Courter handled his response and reaction to that definitely was the first unsettling message of the campaign," said Byrne. In the gubernatorial contest abortion became the first watershed on July 3, when the U.S. Supreme Court issued its long-awaited abortion decision in the Webster v. Reproductive Health Services case. That day, Florio shot out a critical response and Courter remained silent. Courier's reponse to the decision, which gave states the option to restrict abortion, came two days later and was a watered-down version of his formerly staunch pro-life leanings. Courter said he was personally opposed to abortion, but would not force his views on the women of the state. Later in the summer, he voted in Congress against the funding of abortions for poor women. Pro-life organizations in the state even dumped him, citing his waffling on the issue as the reason for pulling out their support. Stephen Salmore, a GOP consultant and political science professor at Rutgers University, said while abortion cannot be credited entirely for Rep. Jim Florio's landslide victory, it set the pace of the gubernatorial campaign. "I think what was important about abortion in this election was Courier's handling of the issue. In the end the Right to Life groups repudiated him, saying he seemed to be shutting the door on them," said Salmore. In Assembly races, Salmore said abortion played a larger role in close contests, but he perceived a shift of most candidates to a middle ground. Florio identified abortion as one of five or six critical issues in the campaign yesterday, as he prepared to speak to a group of supporters from the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL) at the Ramada Renaissance in East Brunswick. "For some it was a cutting-edge issue," said Florio. "It mobilized a lot of people that cut across parry lines." NARAL waged its own independent campaign, pouring more than $250,000 into an "elect-Florio" effort "We shared common views and a common sense of values. Nothing is more private or more intimate than the question of right to choose," said Florio. "Last night was not just my victory. It was your victory as well." However, John Tomicki, executive director of New Jersey Right to Life, downplayed the role of abortion in Florio's win. "Courter would have had strong pro-life support, but when he abandoned his principles, the voters abandoned Yum," said Tomicki. "His loss does not mean the pro-life movement has lost" Tomicki said the message to legislators is to stand firm in their anti-abortion positions if they hope to win. "Several legislators in this state looked at the polls, which were skewed for principles not strategy," he said, referring to statewide polls conducted throughout the race which found 80 percent of New Jersey voters labeling themselves as pro-choice. Tomicki referred to the victories of several targeted pro-life incumbents, such as Assemblymen Chuck Hard wick, R-Union, and John Roc-co, R-Camden, as proof that the issue in New Jersey is not dead. A it Watt RadomskyTtw Hone News New Jersey Governor-elect Jim Florio and his wife. Lucinda, thank pro-choice supporters for their votes during a gathering yesterday at the Ramada Renaissance in East Brunswick. ill I mil I i 4 I fl SAVlNGSpN I U f 11 I 1 I H AUJaUJ l U h i PRICES OF SJ Li U LJI J- .vV ;fXdAJiJy LJU selected styles , J EJTTRA: EXTENDED WARfRANW PLUS HOME TRIAL SPECTACULAR SAVINGS ON SEALV, SERTA, SIMMONS AND STEARNS & FOSTER a FIND EVEN POSTUREPEDIC, PERFECT SLEEPER, BEAUTVREST AND CORRECT COMFORT ON SALE PLUS CHOOSE YOUR BONUS WITH SETS: BONUS FRAME OR BONUS DOLLARS OFF illllliliiiilB irM.n'HJiwiM in luigmiMtwwii inuMMHi mitmmmmmm&tm.mMmmwiiM :jMmvmiVm impwHf-W'J j pju)M juiWWn'M1 1 1 1 1 jiiiniM'MiMiiun- mh ii ir iihib iinni mm j mmiim imiuTi i i ii lllllilii ii au liiiiiiiiii -i uiluj- BOiUS FRAEV2E OR 40 OFF ICIN1G SETS v W&b w ' 6"'' s? 'tsrw m CD 0; o in m a a w macvs WE'RE A PART OF YOUR LIFE 'Deferred billing available only for Macy's Northeast charge account purchases, subject to credit approval. '1 year warranty in addition to manufacturer's warranty plus 30-day home trial, satisfaction guaranteed Phone orders on Sealy Normandy Classic only Call 1-800-44-MACYS. Cover and label may vary in your area. All bedding must be ordered and delivered. There is a $15 delivery charge. Sent within delivery area only. Shop our Furniture Stores on Rte 110 Farmmgdale. Rte 4 Paramus, Rte. 46 Willowbrook Mall, Rte. 35 Eatontown and Rte. 38 Cherry Hill. Bedding also at our Clearance Centers at Carle Place, Hartsdale, Colonie, Rte. 22 Springfield and at all other Macy's except Quaker Bridge. Willowbrook Mall, Monmouth, Cherry Hill. Ocean County. Tysons II and Pentagon City. Prices in effect through 1111.

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