Monday, June 14, 2010

Kumar Calls Out NARAL

House Majority Leader Kumar “Bad Boy” Barve has called out NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland for a number of mistakes it has made on its website in characterizing legislators’ positions on abortion. He is also criticizing their endorsement of District 17 Senate challenger Cheryl Kagan over incumbent Jennie Forehand. (Barve is running on a slate with Forehand and was himself endorsed by NARAL.) Both Kagan and Forehand are solidly pro-choice, but Barve believes that endorsing organizations should not abandon incumbents with excellent voting records. Barve is not the only one to have this opinion as NARAL’s decision to support Kagan turned a lot of heads. And while Barve does not mention it, we find NARAL’s endorsement of District 17 Republican Delegate challenger Dan Campos mysterious since he does not mention choice at all on his website.

Following is the Bad Boy’s email to NARAL PAC Chair Tracy Terrell along with the screenshots that back up his points.

Dear Tracy:

Thank you for endorsing me for reelection. However, for the first time in 24 years I am stunned by many of the endorsement decisions of the PAC.

As you know, between 1986 and 1990 I was the Treasurer of Maryland NARAL and its Political Action Committee. I served as a member of Maryland NARAL’s Board of Directors from 1989 and 1990. I participated in marches on Annapolis, and I was actively involved in our first fundraising efforts. I count among my colleagues the leaders of the movement in Maryland at that time including Karyn Strickler, Joan Brown, Emily Schacter, Karen Ringen, Mary Gill, Kathleen Nieberding-Ryan and many others.

In those days, the PAC gave extra credit for leaders, but we also indentified all pro-choice candidates in the same press release. For example, in my race in 1990, I received a contribution and an endorsement, and all but one of my competitors was identified as pro-choice as well.

While you are quite vocal as to your supported candidates, you are less so with respect to those who are merely pro-choice. I had to search on your website and finally found what can only be described as an error-filled list of candidates.

First, I am glad that you recognize Delegates Luiz Simmons, Jim Gilchrist and Senator Jennie Forehand as pro-choice. Allow me to provide a little background on Simmons and Forehand. To paraphrase the country-western song, “they were pro-choice before pro-choice was cool” in District 17. Both campaigned as pro-choice as far back as 1974. In those days, Delegates Joe Owens and Frank Shore were highly popular in Rockville and staunchly anti-choice.

Second, your unwillingness to endorse Jim Gilchrist even though you admit he is pro-choice is simply bizarre.

I have found some errors in your website which I think require some clarification.

1. You identify Senator Kathy Klausmeier as “Mixed-Choice”. This is strange because she is one of your endorsed candidates. Is this a mistake or do you lower your standards for candidates in more conservative parts of the state?

2. You identify Kevin Kelly as “anti-choice”. He was one of only four Western Maryland delegates to vote in favor of the codification of Roe vs. Wade in the House of Delegates in 1991 (the others were delegates Betty Workman, George Littrell and Tom Hattery). While he has not supported funding for poor women, I believe he has not changed his position on Roe vs. Wade. Maybe I’m wrong on this and I’d be happy to have new information on his position.

3. The first name of the Senator from District 17 is not “Jennifer”, it is Jennie. Her legal name (as it always appears on the ballot) is Jennie.

4. Janet Greenip is anti-choice, but she is no longer a member of the Maryland Senate. Oops!

Finally, Jennie Forehand. Her challenger, Cheryl Kagan is strongly pro-choice. As a former staff member of NARAL I think we can all agree that she is pro-active as well. But, has Jennie ever done anything but help the cause during her time in office? Neither she (nor Simmons and Gilchrist) nor I have done much more than vote the right way to defend choice, because (wait for it...) we won this issue at the ballot in the 1992 referendum.

Jennie has been an active solid citizen on our issue. Period.

All this is troubling to me. Four years from now I may have a strong challenger for my seat. Can I count on your support for me in my time of need if it were to arise? Or will my past history of leadership be conveniently forgotten if a NARAL employee decides to run against me?

Kumar P. Barve
Majority Leader