A red-state Democrat is breaking the trend of Democrats campaigning on abortion access after the Supreme Court’s June judgment. Mark Haugen, who is opposing Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-ND) for North Dakota’s at-large congressional seat, is focusing on the 2023 farm bill and rural access to health care. His views on abortion separate him from most of his party’s contenders this season.
Haugen told the Washington Examiner, “I never hid my pro-life beliefs.” “Everybody knew I’m pro-life. I’m Catholic, and I’m very active in the Catholic community here in Bismarck.” “Although we are a minority,” Haugen stated, “we are a voice out there.“
Haugen has long odds. Armstrong won 69% of the state’s vote in 2020, making his seat secure for Republicans. “It’s tough and a deep-red state for Democrats,” he said, adding, “We’re working as hard as we can. Democrats, we always know we have to outwork our opponent.“
Haugen said he’s making the best case to voters as he traverses the state, teasing he’s gone to “the Crystal Springs rest stop 10 times.“
Bismarck native and pro-abortion rights candidate Cara Mund might possibly spice up the race. Haugen wasn’t worried she’d hurt his support. “She’s going to take away from both parties,” Haugen said. “So I guess it’s anybody’s guess how much of that pie she’s going to slice up.“
Scores of anti-abortion Democrats In the house, several of them Catholic, were in office in 2010 but either lost or didn’t run. One of such ex-member, Democratic Representative from Illinois Dan Lipinski, narrowly lost a 2020 primary to a pro-abortion rights candidate. Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX), an anti-abortion Democrat, barely survived a pro-abortion primary candidate earlier this year.
If Haugen gets elected, anti-abortion Democrats in Congress will quadruple. Haugen equated being a symbol for anti-abortion Democrats to the divisions between moderates and progressives and said the party needed “blue dog Democrats.“
Mark Haugen is a well-documented “blue dog” democrat supporting causes like rural healthcare and agriculture, but his stance as a pro-life democrat has been a major focal point of his candidacy.https://t.co/wVH71iqgxZ
— Josh Meny (@jmmeny) August 18, 2022
“We can take that centrist message and reach across the aisle to the Republicans,” he quipped. “I think that’s probably the direction I would take.” Haugen said that the events of Jan. 6 should show that “for our democracy to operate for society and its citizens,” legislators must compromise across party lines.
“Compromise means you’re not going to get everything you want,” he told reporters. “You’re going to have to give a little, take a little. There’s just too much of both sides of the parties that are entrenching themselves to the right, to the left. And I hope we can just develop that middle coalition.“
Haugen’s presentation to his party was based on compromise. Some lawmakers of the North Dakota Democratic-Nonpartisan League Party objected to him being their candidate owing to his views on abortion. A motion to reassess Haugen’s support failed last month, and the party continued to back him despite abortion disagreements. Haugen said the party’s continued support indicates they understand he is “pro-life, but it should not be a litmus test in the Democratic NPL, and I agree.“
Haugen said he’s enjoying running for Congress, whatever the result. “It’s a privilege to be able to represent your party, represent the people in North Dakota, and engage in a political debate, and that’s what I cherish, that’s what I do with gratitude whether I win or lose,” he said.