Aftab Pureval, the 35-year-old Hamilton County Clerk of Courts, is the Democrat nominee challenging incumbent Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH-01) in Ohio’s First Congressional District.
Pureval’s prospects for success in unseating Chabot appear to hinge heavily on avoiding discussion of three key issues. On the first two, abortion and illegal-immigrant amnesty, Pureval’s positions are at odds with First District voters’ historical preferences. The third, physical and sexual abuse, has recently become a relevant issue because of charges which have been made against a key Democratic Party leader.
The heavily Catholic First District, which now includes much of Cincinnati’s Hamilton County and all of suburban Warren County, has been firmly pro-life ever since the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision made abortion a national issue. Chabot’s only loss since his first electoral victory in 1994 was to Steve Driehaus, a pro-life Democrat, in 2008. In March 2010, Driehaus voted for the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, when given assurances subsequently proven false that the law and the regulations implementing it would not compromise his pro-life principles. Chabot defeated Driehaus in their rematch eight months later.
Pureval’s strong pro-abortion bona fides are well-documented, if not widely known.
The Cincinnati Enquirer reported that in December, Pureval “posted on Facebook a photo of himself and then-Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards … and called Richards a ‘personal hero of mine.'” As of early Tuesday morning, Pureval’s December Facebook post was not visible at either his personal Facebook page or at any December entry at his campaign’s page.
In May, NARAL, the nation’s leading pro-abortion group, endorsed Pureval as part of what the Washington Post described as “a $5 million, 19-state campaign to flip the House of Representatives.” Additionally, Martin Haskell, who in 1992 was the first doctor to describe “intact dilation and extraction,” better known as “partial-birth abortion,” has donated the maximum allowable $2,700 contribution to the Pureval campaign. The Enquirer reported that this is “the first time Haskell has contributed to one of Chabot’s opponents, according to public records.” Partial-birth abortion was outlawed in 2003. The related law withstood a Supreme Court challenge in 2007.
As of early Tuesday morning, the endorsements Pureval has received from NARAL, Haskell, and several other pro-abortion politicians were not found anywhere on his campaign’s website (though he did highlight the early-August endorsement he received from former President Barack Obama on Facebook). That website’s Issues page briefly mentions Pureval’s pro-abortion position in a single sentence in its second-last subtopic, “Access to Healthcare.”
No form of “immigration” or “amnesty” is present on Pureval’s Issues page. Polls have repeatedly shown that immigration has been a top-of-mind issue for voters across the U.S. during the past three years. Many of Pureval’s fellow Democrats have recently demanded that ICE be abolished while advocating what they call a “path to citizenship,” which many opponents have described as “amnesty,” for those who are in the U.S. illegally.
On the issue of sexual abuse, Pureval, in an August 22 tweet, expressed his support for the Violence Against Women Act, a measure which is set to expire in September, and contended that “Steve Chabot should join me.”
In the intervening three weeks, Pureval has not commented on two separate credible charges of domestic violence publicly aired against Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison, who is the Democratic Party’s Deputy Chair. On August 14, over a week before Pureval’s Violence Against Women Act tweet, the DNC promised to “review” the charges against Ellison, who is running to become Minnesota’s Attorney General. As of early Tuesday morning, the Democratic National Committee had not released any results from that promised review.
It remains to be seen whether Pureval’s near silence on abortion, his lack of stated positions on immigration-related matters, and his non-reaction to the Ellison controversy will continue until Election Day.