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November 20, 2006


Here is the list of anti-research Republicans to target in 2008, pulling from democraticavenger's list

Davis (KY)
English (PA)
Garrett (NJ)
Roskam #
Bachmann #
King (NY)
Kuhl (NY)
Lewis (KY)
Smith (NE) #
Rogers (MI)
Ryan (WI)
Young (FL)

# New Republican Congresspeople filling previously anti-research seats that had become open. Depending on their views, some of these seats may have already flipped pro-research.

My dad actually pointed out that the stem-cell amendment was supported only where there is a large medical research facility in Missouri--St. Louis, Kansas City, and Boone County of the U of MO medical school. These votes were enough to put it over the top. Of course McCaskill absolutely, positively had to carry every one of these places by a large margin.


How extensive are those facilities? I'm thinking of MI, which has to be one of the least stem cell friendly states (3+1 Republicans voting against, plus 2 Dems voting against). And I'm wondering how to play those politics.


The stem cell amendment in MO was largely bankrolled and pushed by Jim Stowers of the mutual fund fame. He has funded his own cutting-edge private biomedical research facility in the Kansas City area, and very much wants to get into ES research as well as nuclear transfer. Unfortunately, the MO legislature was making a lot of noise about criminalizing such research, so he assembled a coalition of all the large biomedical research U's (WashU, Mizzou, UM in Kansas City, and yes, even Saint Louis U behind the scenes), to help him fund and push the ballot initiative.

A lot of docs and profs at Wash U med school actually appeared in the ads for amendment 2, as well as did a lot of speaking tours and church meetings. Interestingly enough, there actually were some WashU profs who spoke out publically against the amendment as well.

The most organized opposition group was actually the Catholic Church and some other evangelical protestant churches. There were some strange bedfellows in this fight. The Catholic church, I think, set up some kind of 527 like organization to run a few ads (which were very controversial, as they seemingly implied if amendment 2 passed, women would be forced to donate their eggs).

The other major oppo groups, Missourians against Human Cloning and the MO Roundtable for life, appeared to be legit grassroots issue groups; I can't seem to find a common-denominator "astroturf" PR firm behind them. My (somewhat limited) observation is that they focused nearly all their money on the St. Louis (and possibly KC) metro areas to try and persuade church-going Catholics that would otherwise vote D (and probably voted for McCaskill) into voting against amendment 2 through preying on some of the ambiguous wording of the amendment and the (mostly) older voters' ignorance of what ES research and nuclear transfer were all about.

Clearly they had focus-grouped this to death, and decided to frame the issue by using the loaded words "cloning" and "cloners" early and often. I'm sure it had some impact, but given that the oppo groups were outspent by Stowers nearly 10:1, I guess it's not too surprising that the initiative passed.

So my advice is to find some rich Michigan alum or someone with ties to the medical school there who'd like to bankroll a stem cell initiative. :)

Got the rich Medical school connection all set, I think, right here in the local party (though he's not the most pleasant person...).

It's MI's Catholic-ness that makes it so stem cell unfriendly. I'm thinking of bringing my Parkinsons afflicted and theologian-but-not-dependant-on-the-Church-for-retirement mom to come to MI and do a speaking tour.

what would have as a Michigan ballot measure?

A funding initiative as in California would be extremely ambitious. A protection for stem cell research as in Missouri is great as a political gesture -- but it might fail to get UMich on board because they would be unlikely to benefit (unless they have access to substantial private funding).

On the other hand, raising the spectre of state restrictions on federally-funded research and then passing a bill to pre-empt those imagined restrictions (a lot like what MO did, actually) is very difficult for anyone to vote against -- since it just cements the status quo and puts up barricades to future restrictions, but doesn't actually make anything allowed that wasn't already allowed.

I hesitate to link to an anti-research site, but http://www.2tricky.org/ which was part of the MO anti-research campaign was a site I found extremely helpful. Their message is that Amendment 2 is designed to be very clever and sneaky and pass, and they go through a full analysis of what is clever about it that makes it soung so appealing (for example, it appears on the ballot as a measure "to ban human cloning," which it is). I think it is worth a read, just to see what kinds of tactics really frustrate the other side.

oh, and I agree with everything viget said -- absolutely spot on.

it's a good idea EP

and damn fine political strategy


we need to recruit all the candidates we can find to announce their intent to run against the repuglicans on the menu in 2008, just to put pressure on these luddites to do the right thing

but compared to Iraq, stemcells is gonna be a secondary issue in 2008

still, good thinking, and good writing

Everything is polytics damn !

Yes for adult stem cell research;

No for embryonic stem cell harvesting or cloning for "research and therapy" !

"Truth has a quiet breast". W.Shakespeare

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