It’s a nice cover story, the one that state Rep. Katrina Jackson told to explain why she pushed a vote on her controversial constitutional amendment on abortion from Election Day 2019 until 2020. Jackson, a Democrat from Monroe, said that more people would come out to the polls on the day the country chooses its next president than when Louisiana elects a governor, and “I’m always concerned about voter turnout.”
I’m sure she is, but high-minded reasons such as this are rarely the real explanation behind such last-minute maneuvering. It’s almost always about relative tactical advantage.
In this case the advantage of pushing the vote back goes to Jackson’s fellow Democrat, Gov. John Bel Edwards.
Edwards is running for reelection in a race in which Republicans are busy painting him as too liberal for Louisiana. One way the governor counters the charge is to point to his anti-abortion record — which as of last week, includes his signature on a harsh separate bill that would mostly prohibit abortion after six weeks, even when the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest.
His position has surely helped him on the right, but his signature on the so-called fetal heartbeat bill has infuriated some of his backers on the left. And a less-than-enthusiastic showing by his base on October could spell trouble.
So Edwards has good reason to not want a measure spelling out that abortion is illegal in Louisiana should Roe v. Wade fall on the same ballot as his reelection. A simultaneous campaign over the issue might fire up anti-abortion activists, who are likely to vote Republican despite Edwards’ stance. And it would surely remind abortion rights supporters who are otherwise inclined to turn out for him that on this important issue, he’s not on their side.