Anti-Kavanaugh Groups Pivot From Abortion To Sexual Assault In New Ads

Laura Bassett

Progressive groups are spotlighting new sexual assault allegations against Judge Brett Kavanaugh to pressure vulnerable Republican senators to oppose or at least delay his confirmation to the Supreme Court.  

On Monday, the day after clinical psychology Professor Christine Blasey Ford went public in The Washington Post with details about Kavanaugh and his friend allegedly attempting to rape her in high school, NARAL Pro-Choice America, a major national abortion rights group, released two new ads in Maine and Nevada highlighting the bombshell story. The ads target Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Dean Heller (R-Nev.), who are each facing serious threats from the left in their re-election efforts. Heller, who’s up this November, is currently running neck and neck with his Democratic challenger, Rep. Jacky Rosen (Nev.).

NARAL’s digital ad features disturbing excerpts from the Washington Post story in which Ford, now a professor at Palo Alto University, says Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed, tried to pull off her clothes, put his hand over her mouth to cover her screams and made her fear for her life. The ad notes that Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and some of his Democratic colleagues have called for delaying the vote in light of the allegations.

“What more do you need?” the ad asks Heller and Collins, before directing voters to call their Senate offices.

The ad marks a pivot for NARAL, which has thus far focused all of its anti-Kavanaugh spending on emphasizing his history of opposition to abortion rights. A spokesperson for the group said its members were already outraged by the threat Kavanaugh poses to Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court’s landmark 1973 abortion rights decision. The sexual assault allegations, they said, have only intensified that anger.

“We’re asking every single senator to not just ask for delay, but to do what’s required in putting our country over partisan politics and support withdrawing this nominee,” said Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL. “Women will not stand for the mistreatment of Dr. Ford. We will be watching.”

We Demand Justice, another major anti-Kavanaugh group, is also planning a $700,000 digital and cable ad buy in Maine, Nevada, Alaska and Colorado, targeting Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) in addition to Collins and Heller. Before now, the majority of the political pressure to oppose Kavanaugh had been aimed at Murkowski and Collins, but Ford’s accusation is bringing the heat to the pair of GOP men as well.  

Conservative groups, meanwhile, are jumping to Kavanaugh’s defense. The Washington Post’s Bob Costa reports that the Judicial Crisis Network, a conservative group, has purchased a $1.5 million ad blitz featuring a close friend of Kavanaugh.

Republicans have a razor-thin majority in the Senate, so just one defector could sink Kavanaugh’s prospects. So far, none of the four vulnerable senators have indicated whether the allegations would sway their vote on Kavanaugh. Collins, who has said she did not vote for President Donald Trump because of the multiple sexual assault allegations against him, said only that she is “surprised” by Ford’s story and thinks both Kavanaugh and his accuser should testify before the Senate.

Need help? Visit RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Online Hotline or the National Sexual Violence Resource Center’s website.

  • This article originally appeared on HuffPost.