After Ohio voters notched the seventh straight ballot measure win for abortion rights Tuesday, Republican operatives immediately retreated into fantasyland about how the issue would play differently next year.
Now that Buckeye voters had already enshrined reproductive freedom in the constitution, one Republican told CNN's Manu Raju they were relieved the issue wouldn't get in the way of GOP efforts next year to unseat Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio. Brown is one of Senate Republicans' top three Democratic targets in 2024.
"They just took their best issue off the table," one Republican told Raju of Issue 1.
And then Republican zealots put it right back on the table when, immediately after Ohio voters laid down their marker in favor of abortion rights, state House Speaker Jason Stephens recommitted the GOP-led legislature to the cause of stripping those rights away.
"The legislature has multiple paths that we will explore to continue to protect innocent life. This is not the end of the conversation," Stephens said.
So yes, by next year, voters will forget entirely about the Republican push to pass a national abortion ban. Total amnesia, don't you worry.
It's the latest in a string of GOP copium denials since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade about whether abortion rights would hobble Republican candidates at the ballot box.
Last year, Senate Republicans offered an ever-evolving series of reasons why the end of Roe wouldn't disrupt their push to retake the Senate majority. First, it was that the economy would trump all. Next, it was that voters wouldn’t remember they had been stripped of rights by the time November rolled around. They also spun the notion that abortion was a state issue that wouldn't affect federal races. But once the votes were counted, Senate Republicans suffered a net loss of one seat on the cycle.
Here they go again. See you in 2024.