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Democrats Find Wedge Issue In Stem Cells?

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Stem cells. The culture of life thinks they’re the moral equivalent of a human being, and therefore should have the same rights. The rest of us don’t seem to care about the rights of a few cells. We just care that our loved ones are needlessly suffering. And Democrats are FINALLY taking note.

From the NY Times:

COLUMBIA, Mo., April 19 � Democrats are pressing their support for embryonic stem cell research in Congressional races around the country, seeking to move back to center stage an issue they believe resonates with voters and to exploit a division between conservatives who oppose the science and other Republicans more open to it.

The question of whether the government should support or limit stem cell research has cropped up in Senate races in Maryland and Missouri, and in House races in California, Colorado, Illinois, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Washington and Wisconsin, especially in suburban swing districts.

“What Democrats want to do is gin up their turnout in the suburbs and divide Republicans, and right now they may do that,” said Jennifer E. Duffy, who tracks Senate races for the nonpartisan Cook Political Report. “This is the first real wedge issue Democrats have had with Republicans.”

And this is a particular hot topic in Missouri, where Republican Jim Talent is in for the fight of his life this fall against moderate Dem Claire McCaskill.

On Tuesday, Ms. McCaskill appeared in the central Missouri town of Fayette, population 2,793, for a wine-and-cheese reception at an antiques shop and, later, for a dinner of roast beef and potatoes in the brightly lit social hall of St. Joseph’s, a Roman Catholic church. A Catholic church is hardly the kind of place where most politicians would talk up embryonic stem cell studies â€â€? church leaders are fiercely opposed â€â€? but Ms. McCaskill did just that.

“There are people of principle who disagree with this form of research,” Ms. McCaskill told her audience. “I respect their principles. But what I don’t respect is someone dancing around science for political cover.”

It was a pointed barb at Mr. Talent, a first-term Republican who has publicly wrestled with the stem cell issue and has avoided taking a stand on the proposed amendment. The initiative, destined for the November ballot if supporters gather enough signatures, is intended to beat back efforts to ban the research in Missouri. It would permit stem cell studies as long as they remain legal under federal law.

Expect this to be one of THE races to watch this fall. Not just because it’s my home state, but more because of Missouri’s status as a swing state. If the Show-Me state goes for a Dem this time around, it could signal a sea change across the country. No doubt this is worrying the GOP more than just a little bit. But what to do? Their culture of life stances have backed them into a corner.

Interesting times ahead.