A spokesman for Mayor Mike McGinn's reelection campaign, Aaron Pickus (who's taking time off from his regular job as McGinn's staff spokesman), and a volunteer (and wife of McGinn director of policy and operations Ethan Raup), Tess McShane, posted the cell phone number of a Planned Parenthood spokeswoman on their Facebook pages in posts protesting the group's work on behalf of McGinn challenger Ed Murray.
Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest, the political arm of the pro-choice group, gave Murray its sole endorsement in the primary and the general. Last weekend, they called around 25,000 pro-choice voters to encourage them to vote for Murray, prompting the McGinn camp to call Planned Parenthood's tactics "Astroturf" and "Eymanesque."
Today, the McGinn camp doubled down on its criticism of the pro-choice group. In addition to encouraging McGinn supporters to call Mackley on her cell phone and posting the number publicly, Pickus accused Planned Parenthood of "miscommunicating to voters" by "telling people that Mike McGinn is not pro-choice. It is fine if they want to endorse Ed Murray, but the suggestion that Mayor McGinn is anything but 100 percent pro-choice is [sic] incredulous."
McShane posted the same language, but added, "Murray's campaign is stooping even lower in their deception tactics.
This afternoon, Pickus sent out a press announcement reiterating that McGinn "has a 100 percent pro-choice ranking from NARAL Washington" and inviting the press to meet with McGinn to discuss his record on choice.
Planned Parenthood's Mackley forwarded the script callers used during last weekend's phonebank. It reads as follows:
Ed Murray has a long track record of standing up for women’s healthcare- he’s fought to protect family planning funding and to ensure that women, not insurance companies, can make the healthcare decisions that are best for themselves and their families.
That’s why Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest is standing with Ed Murray for Seattle Mayor.
Will you join Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest in supporting Ed Murray for Seattle Mayor?
Yes: Great! Don’t forget for your vote to count your ballot needs to be mailed by November 5th. [go to close]
No: [go to close]
Undecided: Please consider voting Ed Murray for Mayor.
Nowhere does the script say McGinn is anti-choice.
In an email to McGinn campaign manager Bill Monto, Mackley elaborated, "It is because of Senator Ed Murray’s long and public track record of protecting access to women’s health care, family planning funding and leading on Marriage Equality, that our board issued a sole endorsement in this race."
Asked directly why he claimed Planned Parenthood was claiming McGinn was anti-choice, Pickus told PubliCola, "We have been getting calls from people concerned that the mayor isn't pro-choice after they speak with PP phone bankers," and said the campaign wanted Planned Parenthood to make a point of telling voters they call that "both candidates in this race are pro-choice."
Additionally, Monto wrote Mackley in an email, "We respectfully ask that when Mayor McGinn's record comes up, you report the fact that he is also 100% pro-choice."
That's a pretty odd request to make of a group advocating on behalf of your opponent—kind of like Murray asking McGinn to make sure that when his union supporters phone bank on McGinn's behalf, they mention that Murray has union support too.
At any rate, Planned Parenthood wrapped up its phone campaign on Tuesday. And while the McGinn camp is still encouraging supporters to call Mackley, they've changed the number on their posts to her official Planned Parenthood office number.
If Murray ultimately wins, this mini-tantrum against Planned Parenthood will come to represent a theme that may emerge in the days after the election: The fact that Murray, not just McGinn, has legit grassroots support—and game.
There's some mythology built up within the McGinn camp (and even outside of it) that only McGinn has the people on his side, and can out-organize a top-down Chamber-backed campaign. However, Planned Parenthood's endorsement—one of the many lefty endorsements for Murray—and Planned Parenthood's active work on Murray's behalf belies the McGinn campaign's narrative.