The president of NARAL Pro-Choice America today said that abortion rights can swing voters to Democrat Richard Blumenthal in the U.S. Senate race, even if Republican Linda McMahon also describes herself as “pro-choice.”

“Richard Blumenthal is a proven ace here, and McMahon is an untested wild card,” said Nancy Keenan, the president of the national abortion-rights group, which endorsed Blumenthal earlier this year.

The economy and voter anger toward Washington are the dominant factors in nearly every poll, but Keenan told reporters in Hartford that Blumenthal’s strong record on abortion rights can draw independents and some Republicans.

Women already are tilting heavily toward Democrats this year, especially so in the Senate race, where women favored Blumenthal in this week’s Quinnipiac University poll, 56 percent to 39 percent.

Keenan said that NARAL, with 14,000 members in Connecticut, can help turn out a vote for Blumenthal, but she declined to share strategy. She spoke a press conference with other activists backing the Democratic attorney general.

“The U.S. Senate race between Richard Blumenthal and Linda McMahon is an opportunity for Connecticut voters to once again act on their pro choice values,” Keenan said.

Connecticut’s two senators and its five House members had perfect voting records on NARAL issues in 2009. Vermont and Hawaii were the only other states whose delegations also scored 100 percent.

Statewide candidates opposed to abortion rights are rare in Connecticut.

“I am pro-choice,” McMahon says on her web site. “However, I oppose partial-birth abortion and federal funding of abortions unless the life of the mother is at stake. I’m in favor of parental notification/parental consent legislation.”

Keenan said NARAL is wary of candidates who offer caveats to the their support. In McMahon’s case, she said, the group says it will remind its members that McMahon would be part of a GOP caucus hostile to abortion rights.

Ed Patru, McMahon’s communication director, said McMahon’s limited reservations about abortion are mainstream.

“Like the overwhelming majority of Americans – Democrats and Republicans – she opposes late-term abortion,” Patru said. “And like most voters, she’s troubled by the notion that a 13-year-old in Connecticut would need parental permission to get her ears pierced or a tattoo, but not to get an abortion.”

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Mark PazniokasCapitol Bureau Chief

Mark is the Capitol Bureau Chief and a co-founder of CT Mirror. He is a frequent contributor to WNPR, a former state politics writer for The Hartford Courant and Journal Inquirer, and contributor for The New York Times.

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