Roe v. Wade, the 1973 landmark Supreme Court ruling that recognized a woman’s right to abortion was overturned by the Supreme Court on Friday. The 5-4 vote to overturn Roe v. Wade has political consultants rethinking the strategies for their candidates in the November elections. Chief Justice John Roberts concurred only with the Mississippi case that the Supreme Court was addressing but did not support overturning Roe v. Wade. The ruling takes the abortion battles back to where they started, to the state legislatures. Texas was the birthplace of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court ruling which derived from separate cases; Roe, a single pregnant woman who challenged the constitutionality of Texas abortion laws and two other cases – Hallford, a doctor and a childless couple. With the Friday ruling, the abortion question is now central to the November elections for the Texas governorship and state legislatures as abortion activists on both sides of the debate look to bolster their ranks in Texas politics. Beto O’Rourke, who is running for the governorship, immediately wrapped his campaign around women’s rights in Texas.

Abortion is a polarizing issue across America. Activists on both sides are now preparing for the changing calculus to the November elections. In El Paso women candidates have had the advantage in recent local political contests. This is especially true in binary races between one man and one woman. The question local political consultants are asking themselves is how much of an impact does overturning Roe v. Wade have on El Paso’s upcoming political contests. For the most part, El Paso’s November elections are the city council races because the federal and state races are mostly settled around the Democratic Party candidates.

The question is whether there will be a surge of new voters both registering to vote and casting votes in five months. If it happens, what will it mean for the city council candidates? City council seats for Districts 1, 5, 6 and 8 are open. District 1 representative Peter Svarzbein has termed out. District 5 incumbent Isabel Salcido has not officially said that she is running for re-election, while District 6’s Claudia Rodriguez has designated her treasurer indicating that she is seeking to keep her seat. Cissy Lizarraga, the incumbent for District 8, has also not indicated whether she will run to keep her seat.

Filing season for city council seats begin on July 23 and end on August 22.

Prior to the overturn of Roe v. Wade, the primary political issues facing the candidates for city council races were the questions of the city manager, the downtown arena and rising taxes. The controversy over Roe v. Wade changed the equation over how much of an impact voter mobilization by Beto O’Rourke’s campaign will wield in voter turnout in El Paso. Overturning Roe v. Wade changed the calculus for El Paso’s political races because of the anticipated voter mobilization. In addition to O’Rourke, will the Court’s ruling drive new voters to the polls is the questioned being asked in political circles today.

The question of abortion in El Paso is very polarizing as progressive politics meets conservative Catholic values in a highly Catholic concentrated city. Abortion, itself, is a dividing factor among Democrats. The belief is that Latina women have an edge in the local political scene. Recent results seem to support this. But how much of an impact will Roe v. Wade have on El Paso’s city council races?

City council has no direct impact on abortion rights in Texas. Abortion does not directly impact the city council races. However, voter turn out does. Will a resurgent activist voter change the calculus? That is the question preoccupying political consultants and their client candidates today.

The Republican factor does not exist in El Paso and therefore their impact on the local races is negligible. When Politico leaked a draft of the ruling on Roe v. Wade in May, ABC News conducted a poll asking voters across the nation their opinion on upholding abortion rights. The ABC poll found that 54% of Americans polled by ABC supported keeping Roe v. Wade with 70% supported letting women decide on whether to have an abortion or not.

In El Paso, the political landscape on abortion is difficult because the issue intersects between progressive politics and traditional Catholic values. According to the May 5, 2022, poll by Pew Research, the issue of abortion among Democrats is more of an issue for women Democrats than for the men.

Pew Research poll

Democrats, however, overwhelmingly support legal abortion in all states. According to Pew Research, 80% of those who lean towards the Democrats support legal abortion in all states. Support for legal abortions among Democrats has risen steadily from 63% in 2007 to 80% in 2022.

Pew Research poll

However, the Catholic factor remains in play in El Paso with many elected officials seeking to avoid taking public positions on the issue. The question then, is will the overturn of Roe v. Wade impact the city elections in November? Other than symbolic measures, city officials have no authority on the abortion issue. However, will the abortion movement translate into voters in November? If so, what is the impact on the city candidate races? A mobilized voter turnout will favor women candidates. But how much of an impact will this have on the city races? That is the question that political consultants are waking up to this morning.

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Martin Paredes

Martín Paredes is a Mexican immigrant who built his business on the U.S.-Mexican border. As an immigrant, Martín brings the perspective of someone who sees México as a native through the experience...

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