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Could overturning Roe v. Wade impact local elections in Washington state?

Ahead of the midterm elections, Democrats and Republicans are turning their attention to abortion rights to help sway voters.

KING COUNTY, Wash. — Could women's reproductive rights, and the overturning of a 50-year-old law, be a turning point in the upcoming midterm election?

Specifically, how will moderate, suburban voters react to a potential change just weeks before a primary in a midterm election cycle?

It is a question already being asked in places like the 8th Congressional District, where Democrat Kim Schrier won a second term over Republican Jesse Jensen by a few percentage points in 2020 and where redistricting has added another element of unknown to a seat which includes King and Pierce counties.

"It will probably increase voter turnout because there are people who feel strongly for and against it," acknowledged long-time Issaquah resident Sharon Miller as she stood on Front Street Wednesday afternoon. "I can't believe it's being attacked."

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The issue became more contentious on Tuesday when Reagan Dunn, one of Schrier's challengers, was the lone "no" vote on a non-binding King County Council resolution backing women's reproductive rights. Dunn gave no reason for the "no" vote on Tuesday and shed little light on Wednesday.

He previously indicated he is pro-choice.

However, in a statement to KING 5 Wednesday, he wrote, “I support a woman’s right to make her own decision. However, it is not an issue that any branch of the federal government should ever have the power to decide. The decision must rest with the woman and not our government. If it is an issue that requires government involvement at all then it should be left to the states to decide and not lawmakers back in Washington D.C."

Democrats were quick to react, with Democratic Party Chair Tina Podlodowski tweeting, "Let’s be clear @washdems, Reagan Dunn betrays and demeans the women of CD8 with this vote, to grovel in the mud with his other far-right GOP challengers."

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee issued a statement saying, in part, "Make no mistake: Reagan Dunn would be a reliable vote for Republicans in Congress to ban abortion and eliminate women’s freedom to make their own health care decisions."

Other Republicans questioned whether Dunn was trying to pivot to make it through a primary.

Jensen, who is running against Schrier again, said, "I am proud to be pro-life. This is reinforced each morning as I look into the eyes of my three small children. I am also a constitutional conservative who believes in state's rights. If the Supreme Court ultimately sends this decision on life back to the states, it underscores the importance of state-level elections this fall."

Former Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna, who has endorsed Jensen, said he is not convinced the leaked draft opinion will be the final language.

"If Mississippi’s law is upheld that doesn't mean our law will change," McKenna said, suggesting that the court could uphold the state's law and continue to recognize Roe v. Wade as constitutional law.

But McKenna, who has argued before the Supreme Court and ran for governor, said the political implications of the leak are obvious.

"This is very helpful to Democrats who were facing a wipeout in the midterms because of the economy and the unhappiness administration's performance in many areas, it allows them to change the topic to this subject, and it's an important topic. It should be discussed,” said McKenna.

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