Earlier this year, Dr. Friedman refused to answer a candidate questionnaire from a coalition of conservative groups. Despite that, many assumed (or were led to believe) he was pro-life. As a result, the mailer has surprised and confused many of his conservative Republican constituents and supporters.
When asked about the mailer and Friedman's position on abortion, campaign spokesman Paul Miller provided this rather tortured and ambiguous response:
"I have been with Arie for over three years and through two campaigns. I have been with him in innumerable meetings with voters and donors. Not once have I ever heard him claim to be pro-life. In fact, it's Arie respect for the voters that has resulted in him going to great lengths to carefully explain his personal views on abortion.
All of that said, Arie is an observant Jew.
His beliefs on the subject of abortion have been fully informed by his extensive religious education and participation in our community (I too am an observant Jew).
The reality is that the Conservative Jewish religious view on the issue of abortion would be most appropriately characterized as pro-choice. Arie is the member of North Suburban Synagogue Beth - El, which is a participant in the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism (USCJ). Here is a link to the USCJ position paper on "Abortion Controversy: Jewish Religious Rights and Responsibilities." In the past Arie has forwarded this link to many pro-life leaders to explain the religious underpinnings of his views on the issue.
On a side note. Personal PAC and Terry Cosgrove recently sent a letter to voters in our district stating that Arie is so extremely pro-life he should be equated with Todd Akin of Missouri. Personal PAC has endorsed Arie's opponent and it's an open secret that they are committing significant resources to defeating Arie in November.
This is the sorry state of politics in our financially devastated state.
None of this should detract from Arie's and our campaign's desire to have a relationship with both the pro-life and pro-choice community. The outreach Arie has engaged in has been genuine and heartfelt and will continue in the future."
It would seem that Friedman's position on abortion remains unclear. But the mailer raises some questions.
FIRST - Why would Friedman pick a fight with his base? Pro-abortion voters in the district are not going to change their vote from Julie Morrison to Friedman. And Personal PAC is not going to stop targeting the 39 percent of self-identified independents with ads and mailers that label him as anti-choice. Therefore, his only path to victory is to solidify his base (his source of votes, money and volunteers) and then win independents with a fiscal conservative message. The mailer sets him back with his base. Not a good place to be at this point in the cycle.
SECOND - The mailer was sent from the Illinois Republican Party (ILGOP), at a cost of approx. $44,000 according to the State Board of Elections. After repeatedly telling Republicans that social issues are secondary to fiscal ones, why would the ILGOP wade into the abortion debate -- on the side that not only alienates the GOP base, but is counter to its own platform? (See 2012 ILGOP platform: Embracing the First Freedom: The Right to Life -- and ILGOP Platform Section E of XIX. Call to Action)
THIRD - Why is Friedman being so evasive about his position on abortion? His failure to directly answer the question means he's lying -- to one side or the other. Not a formula for victory. And certainly not a foundation upon which to serve should he win election.