THE BLOG

The White House Isn't the Only House at Stake on May 6

05/01/2008 06:26 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

On Tuesday, May 6, voters in Indiana's seventh congressional district will have the opportunity to make history and it's not about Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton. Now, before everyone starts the ALL CAPS yelling at me about how both of these candidates are history-making, everyone take a deep breath. Yes, yes, yes: you'll be voting for the next President of the United States and both Senators Clinton and Obama are truly historic candidates.

But for voters in IN-07, you have another chance to make history if you vote for Congressman Andre Carson in the primary, too. Why? Because Rep. Carson is the ONLY fully pro-choice member of the entire Indiana congressional delegation. The only one. Out of two senators and eight congressional representatives.

Rep. Carson, just like his grandmother before him, is it. He's the only member who has been endorsed by NARAL Pro-Choice America. He's the only one who has unequivocally stood with women - not politicians - when it comes to protecting and defending a woman's right to choose. Without Andre Carson in Congress, there's a good chance that Indiana loses its one pro-choice voice in Washington, DC.

Why am I reminding you to vote for Rep. Carson on May 6 and well, frankly, being a bit of pain about it? Well, forgive me, but previous states in this presidential primary season have made me a little nervous about down-ballot races in 2008.

Yes, we've had record-breaking turnout in primaries and caucuses across the country. Yes, we've seen more young voters, more party-switchers, more new and first-time voters than ever before.

Increased turnout and participation in the political process is great for the progressive movement and for the eventual Democratic nominee for president. Conventional wisdom says that these new and party-switching voters will help Democrats take control of the White House in November of this year.

What is less certain is how these voters will impact down-ballot races. For example, in states like Texas and Ohio that held congressional primaries at the same time as the presidential primary, there was a significant drop-off between ballots cast for a presidential candidate and ballots cast for the U.S. Senate (Texas) or U.S. House (Texas and Ohio) candidates.

For example, 2,868,454 people voted in the Democratic presidential primary in Texas on March 4, 2008. However, only 2,172,716 people voted in the Democratic U.S. Senate primary. That's a drop-off of 24 percent between the top-of-the-ticket and the next race on the ballot. In Ohio's second congressional district (where there was a competitive Democratic primary for the U.S. House seat), 109,295 people voted for a Democratic candidate for president. But only 94,946 voted in the U.S. House primary contest. That's a drop-off of 13 percent between the presidential and congressional races.

Winning back the White House this November is critically important for pro-choice Americans. (Visit MeetTheRealMcCain if you still have a question about that!) But increasing our majorities in Congress is just as, if not more, important to the long term success of the progressive movement. Without more pro-choice members of Congress, how do we even have the chance of getting pro-choice legislation to the White House for President Obama or President Clinton to sign? Think about it.

That's why, on Tuesday, May 6, when you vote for either Clinton or Obama for president, you must move down the ballot and cast your vote for Andre Carson, too. We need Andre Carson to keep fighting for all the progressive values - including a woman's right to choose -- that our progressive movement stands for and with. And Indiana, you need at least one fully pro-choice member of your congressional delegation unless you want to be included in other states with NO fully pro-choice representation in Washington, D.C. States like Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, and...do I really need to continue?