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CINCINNATI, Ohio — The leaked Supreme Court draft opinion Monday night sent shockwaves throughout the country, and Ohio’s Republican Senate primary is no exception.
After a race that focused largely candidates’ degree of support for former President Donald Trump, abortion — previously a back-burner issue — came to the forefront just hours before polls opened.
It’s not clear if the leaked document, first reported by Politico and confirmed by a statement from the court, will sway votes so late in the race. But the Republican candidates all rushed to burnish their pro-life credentials Monday night and Tuesday.
A crowd of people gather outside the Supreme Court, Monday night, May 2, 2022 in Washington following reports of a leaked draft opinion by the court overturning Roe v. Wade. (AP Photo/Anna Johnson)
“I’m 100% pro-life, very proud to be endorsed by a right to life, the only candidate in the race by Ohio Right to Life,” former venture capitalist J.D. Vance said. “I do think Roe was a big mistake. So it would be great if the Supreme Court overturned it….So I hope the five conservatives who appear to be going in the right direction, I hope they stay firm.”
Vance also hammered the anonymous person who leaked a draft majority opinion by Justice Samuel Alito to Politico, alleging a “catastrophic break of the rules of the Supreme Court.”
“As a fierce pro-Life mother and candidate, I pray that the decision to overturn Roe v Wade prevails as it would save millions of innocent, unborn babies,” fellow candidate and former Ohio GOP Chair Jane Timken said. “However, this egregious leak is an assault on the independence of the Judiciary and another attempt by the Left to bypass our democratic institutions for their own political agenda.”
Reps. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., and Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., at a rally for Ohio GOP Senate candidate J.D. Vance in Newark, Ohio. (Fox News)
Former state Treasurer Josh Mandel, meanwhile, touted his focus throughout the campaign on religious values, including life. Mandel ran his campaign to a large extent out of Ohio churches, holding rallies in houses of worship alongside religious leaders.
Mandel is endorsed by Ohio Value Voters, Ohio Right to Life Action Coalition, Cincinnati Right to Life and 114 pastors across the state.
“This decision will save the lives of countless babies who will grow up to do beautiful things for America and society,” Mandel said. “As a pro-Life leader and activist, I am proud to live in a country that is stopping abortion once and for all.”
Sen. Ted Cruz campaigns with GOP Senate candidate and former Ohio state treasurer Josh Mandel in Kettering, Ohio on Friday April 29, 2022. (Fox News)
Despite the last-second focus on abortion issues in the Ohio race, University of Virginia Center for Politics Director Larry Sabato told Fox News it’s unlikely the Supreme Court leak will significantly affect its outcome.
“This happened election eve,” Sabato said. “The vast majority of people… don’t constantly tune into the news… so I don’t even know that people will have grasped the importance of this or will have focused on it.”
“If this had happened a week before the primary, then the issue would have had a chance to marinate and have some real political consequences on Election Day,” Sabato added. “Believe it or not, a lot of people are just hearing about it during the day. They didn’t watch the late news — or they get up early, go to work, and it’s not a topic of conversation.”
Sabato also said that all the GOP candidates are pro-life, further reducing the potential effect of the leaked draft opinion. Any real impact it could have, he said, may be in motivating Democratic turnout in the general — although that still may not sway the result in an increasingly red state like Ohio.
The Republican candidates, nevertheless, are hoping to milk any last-minute momentum they could get from the ruling in a race that’s wide-open just hours before polls close.
“If the reported Supreme Court opinion holds true, this is a huge victory for the pro-life movement,” investment banker and Senate candidate Mike Gibbons said. “This leak shows Democrats are determined to stop the Court’s decision and that we must elect candidates that will continue to defend the unborn, which is exactly what I’ll do in the U.S. Senate.”
“As a lawyer and a constitutional conservative I’m really concerned about the leak and I hope that the DOJ and the FBI take it seriously, find the leaker and prosecute them,” state Sen. Matt Dolan said on “America’s Newsroom.” “As a pro-life… person, it is exciting. I have been strong always saying that Roe v. Wade needs to be returned to the states.”
Democratic Senate frontrunner Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, meanwhile said Tuesday that he would be a vote to end the Senate filibuster and entrench abortion protections in federal law if he’s elected.
“Control of the Senate has never been more important: it’s time to end the filibuster, pass the Women’s Health Protection Act, and fight like hell to make sure all Ohio families are free to make these critical decisions without interference from politicians in Columbus or Washington,” Ryan said.
Fox News’ Jeremy Copas contributed to this report.