THIRTEEN SENATE RACES: A Stem Cell Perspective

By Don C. Reed

What are your top issues this election? The economy? Women’s rights? Medical costs?

Your Senator’s stance on stem cell research will affect all three.

Concerned about the economy? Anti-science policies like the proposed Republican ban on embryonic stem cell research– could make it far more difficult to lower the medical burden afflicting our country. Cure research may alleviate chronic disease, saving our economy enormous expenditures and increased deficit spending—but only if we do not tie the scientists’ hands.

Women’s reproductive freedoms are (at least till now) protected by the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision. But an increasing number of Republican leaders have bought into the “personhood” argument that every fertilized egg must protected by law—which would make all abortions illegal, without exceptions for rape or incest.

Medical costs? An estimated 100 million Americans suffer a chronic disease or disability. Since these folks are not getting well, we pay a continually-growing mountain of medical bills. If we cure or substantially alleviate a disease, that lowers everybody’s medical costs—which is why we must support research for cure.

Below are 13 Senate races: a wrong decision on any could be devastating for us all.

On the basis of their stem cell positions, I have listed my opinion on whether to support or oppose them.

ALSO, if you would like to help spread the word on stem cell friends and opponents, please drop me a line at:

1. Arizona: support Richard Carmona (D) and oppose Jeff Flake (R) (Richard Carmona is the former Surgeon General of the United States, memorable for standing up for advanced stem cell research from inside the Bush Administration. He has courage, intelligence, compassion—and he cares.)

2. Connecticut: support Chris Murphy D) and oppose Linda McMahon (R)— (Chris Murphy began Connecticut’s magnificent stem cell program. Linda McMahon is super-rich, which appears to be her primary qualification. She also goes back and forth on stem cell research, and I would have to classify her as an opponent.)

3. Massachusetts: support Elizabeth Warren (D) and oppose Scott Brown (R) ® (Elizabeth Warren is straight, honest and unchanging in her views. She supports the research, and that’s that. But Scott Brown? He seems to change his opinions to suit the audience; sometimes he tries to put distance between himself and stem cell opponent Mitt Romney—but Brown was also praised by opponents of research for his right-to-life stance on the subject. He is smooth, slick and I don’t trust him an inch.)

4. Michigan: support Debbie Stabenow (D) and oppose Pete Hoekstra (R)— (In 2008, Michigan had a tremendous struggle to protect their right to do stem cell research. Proposal 2 passed, and the Wolverine state is now strong for scientific freedom; Debbie Stabenow strongly supports research hope for the future– but Peter Hoekstra, a strident enemy of the research, seems to not have gotten the message that Michigan won.)

5. Minnesota: support Amy Klobuchar (D) and oppose Kurt Bills (R)— (Minnesota has some terrific stem cell work being done in the fight against cancer: Check out Dan Kaufman’s work and you will be amazed.)

6. Missouri: support Claire McCaskill (D) and oppose Todd Akin (R)—— —… (Todd “legitimate rape” Akin is not only infamous for his rape statements, but is also a full-fledged personhood advocate, which means that while he supports carrying a rape pregnancy to full term, he would be against a woman having a baby by IVF.)

7. Montana: support Jon Tester (D) and oppose Denny Rehberg (R)— (Interestingly, people who support women’s rights seem usually to be stem cell research supporters—look at Tester vs. Rehberg from a women’s rights point of view–

8. Nebraska: support Bob Kerrey (D) and oppose Deb Fischer (R) (Kerrey is a strong stem cell research supporter, with a long record of tenacity, courage and vision; Fischer married a rich rancher, and then used a government program to get ultra-cheap grazing land for her personal benefit, although she is very much against other people having access to social programs. She is not only against embryonic stem cell research, but opposes women’s reproductive rights as well, as she would prohibit abortion without exception for rape or incest. )

9. New York: support Kirsten Gillibrand (D) and oppose Wendy Long (R)— (Kirsten Gillibrand has a strong history of supporting stem cell research—and so does the great state of New York!)

10. North Dakota: support Heidi Heitkamp: (D) and oppose Rick Berg (R)–… (Berg is a personhood supporter, hugely backed by ultra-conservative Superpacs like Karl Rove. With the tidal wave of money behind Berg, few thought Heidi Heitkamp had a chance—but she embodies North Dakota determination and now is neck and neck with the backward Mr. Berg.)

11. Ohio: support Sherrod Brown (D) and oppose Josh Mandel (R). Endorsed by National and Ohio Right to Life.— (Josh Mandel on his own merits would have little chance against the strongly progressive Sherrod Brown; but ultraconservative out-of-state money from Pacs like Karl Rove’s American Crossroads has given his campaign an enormous advantage. )

12. Virginia: support Tim Kaine (D) and oppose George Allen (R)— (George Allen, famous for his “macaca” racist remarks, is also a personhood supporter.)

13. Wisconsin: support Tammy Baldwin (D) and oppose Tommy Thompson (R)—… (Tommy Thompson formerly supported embryonic stem cell research, but has apparently changed sides. He also appears to have changed his mind about supporting Medicaid and Medicare, when he told a group of rich donors, “Who better than me to get rid of Medicaid and Medicare?”)

Do you have a friend who lives in one of these crucial states? If so, please contact him or her, and ask if they would help spread the good news about stem cell research in the next ten days. For instance, there are pro-stem cell video ads available on some of the races, and you might like to see them, and/or share them with friends via email or YouTube.

If you would like to help, please drop me a line at:

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