If anyone had a doubt who Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell and his acolyte City Commissioner Rosalynn Bliss were backing in the Second Ward race, they let the cat out of the bag on election night last Tuesday. Big Sister and Little Sister were partying with fellow PWAista Ruth Kelly at her campaign gala at Toxic Towers when the bad news began trickling in. Kelly's opponent, David LaGrand, was drubbing her at the polls. In fact, LaGrand ended up winning 60% of the vote. By the middle of the evening, the Sisters got a clue and hustled over to LaGrand's house to congratulate him on his victory.
Perhaps Heartwell and Bliss don't get it and so found themselves in the wrong place on election night, but I think abortion politics (or more comprehensively, the culture of death issues) are playing a bigger role in municipal elections. Maybe not directly in that a pro-choice candidate for city office can no longer expect any support from pro-life voters. Rather, voters are losing their patience with the deceptions of closet pro-choicers, especially after the publicity surrounding Heartwell's ill-received direct mailing to Catholic voters during the mayoral race.
It may well be that Kelly's coyness about her stand on abortion, hinting that she may have picked up the Right to Life endorsement if she has chosen to pursue it after having gotten the nod from the pro-abortion Progressive Women's Alliance, was too much for many Second Ward voters to swallow. She probably would have done better with an honest declaration of her positions on abortion and other life issues. That lack of candor, whatever one thinks of the relevance of abortion in a city commission race, certainly cost Kelly votes in a low turn-out election. If so, this was a watershed year in city politics.