Last year, the House approved an extension of the Violence Against Women Act despite opposition from most House Republicans. It was a striking vote – in 2005, a GOP-led House reauthorized the law in a lopsided, near-unanimous tally, but in this Congress, Republican opposition to VAWA in the House went from 2 a decade ago to 128 now. What was a fringe position had become the GOP majority position.
One of the 128 opponents of the law was Rep. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), who’d only been in Congress for about a month when he cast the vote. Yesterday, Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), the incumbent senator Cotton is challenging, made the congressman’s position the basis for a tough new ad.
For those who can’t watch clips online, the ad features a young woman talking to the camera. She tells viewers:
“Hi, it’s Courtney. I read a lot, and I came across something that got my attention: One out of every four women will be a victim of domestic violence.“So when Congressman Cotton was the only Republican or Democrat in Arkansas to vote against the Violence Against Women Act, I was shocked.“First he’s against equal pay for women, now Cotton won’t protect us from domestic abuse. Who is this guy, and what’s he got against women?”
The spot coincides with the release of a similar spot featuring a different woman talking about Cotton’s vote against the Violence against Women Act: “I speak for myself, my 26 year old daughter, and I think many women – Cotton’s votes are insulting and don’t reflect the views of most Arkansans.”
Don’t be surprised if Democrats keep emphasizing this message in the coming months. The party used it against Ken Cuccinelli (R) in Virginia’s gubernatorial race last year, which reinforced the gender gap statewide.
It’s potency is strong enough that more than a few congressional Republicans who opposed VAWA have quietly suggested they voted for it, hoping the public won’t know the difference.