Group opposing Ohio push to make changing constitution harder launches new TV ad

Group opposing Ohio push to make changing constitution harder launches new TV ad

An Ohio group working to defeat an August ballot measure that could make it harder for abortion-rights supporters to amend the state constitution later this year is upping its ad presence in the state.

The “One Person One Vote” organization urging people to vote “no” in the August election began running a new ad on Wednesday that focuses heavily on comments from Republican Secretary of State Frank LaRose earlier this year, in which he acknowledged that the purpose of the summertime ballot measure was to make it harder for a November measure enshrining abortion rights in the state to pass.

The Aug. 8 ballot measure — known as Issue 1 — will see voters decide whether to raise the threshold of support required for future state constitutional amendments to 60%. Currently, just a majority is needed.

The 30-second spot — which will run in Ohio on television and digitally — starts with a narrator saying, “They got caught red-handed, admitting Issue 1 is one hundred percent about abortion.”

The ad then plays footage of LaRose, referring to the measure, saying that, “Yes, it is about abortion.”

The ad ends with the narrator asking Ohioans to “vote no” in August.

The group said it would begin running similarly themed radio ads next week.

Rob Nichols, a spokesperson for LaRose, told NBC News, “We are comfortable to let Ohio voters sort it out in August through their democratic voting right to determine how our constitution is to be regarded.”

The latest effort by “One Person One Vote” — part of a new “significant spend” to reach voters, according to campaign spokesperson Dennis Willard — comes on top of a $1.1 million buy the group made last month.

“One Person One Vote will communicate aggressively on the airwaves, online and radio, TV, digital and in mailboxes until polls close in the August 8 special election,” Willard said.

While the August measure doesn’t explicitly mention abortion, reproductive rights groups maintain it’s designed to make it more difficult for voters to pass their own proposed amendment this November. The Republican-led move to schedule the election came just weeks after reproductive rights groups had cleared several key hurdles to getting their measure on the ballot.

If voters pass the threshold measure in August, then the proposed abortion rights amendment in November would need 60% support from voters to pass. If the August measure fails, the abortion amendment would need just a majority.

The latest ad also focuses on a contradiction abortion rights advocates put at the center of an unsuccessful lawsuit to have the August election nixed: that Ohio Republicans had enacted a law that scrubbed most August special elections from the state’s calendar before reversing course and scheduling one again.

LaRose, who has said he’s likely to run for U.S. Senate in 2024, said in public testimony late last year that holding August special elections wasn’t worth the tens of millions of dollars in costs.

But last month, News5 Cleveland, a local Ohio television station, published a clip of LaRose saying in May that the effort to raise the threshold was “100% about keeping a radical pro-abortion amendment out of our constitution.”

Following that report, Nichols, the LaRose spokesperson, defended the reversal, telling News5 Cleveland and other outlets that the secretary of state had “consistently said we need to elevate the standard for amending our state constitution, whether its health care, minimum wage, casinos or any other special interest agenda.”

Adam Edelman

Adam Edelman is a political reporter for NBC News.

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