Senate's Top Democrat in the Cross Hairs
Christianity Today's coverage of this year's election includes profiles of John Kerry and George W. Bush. For the rest of this week, we will highlight other campaigns and issues to be decided this election season.
Judging by Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle's exhaustive August tour through each of South Dakota's 66 counties, you'd think he was fearful about re-election. But for Daschle, it's an annual event. He drives solo through prairies, tiny towns, and Indian reservations every summer. This time, however, Daschle is in the fight of his political life, partly because conservative Christians in South Dakota are newly galvanized against him.
Polls currently show Daschle slightly ahead of former U.S. Rep. John Thune, a 1983 graduate of Biola University who challenged Sen. Tim Johnson in 2002, losing by only 524 votes. Defeat of Daschle would not only be a symbolic loss for Democrats, but it would also deal a near-fatal blow to their attempt to regain control of the closely divided Senate.
The senator's supporters promote his ability to deliver federal dollars for local projects. His critics claim Daschle's party obligations prevent him from heeding South Dakota's conservative majority on matters like abortion and the Federal Marriage Amendment (FMA). Thune told CT, "He has come back here for 26 years now and said one thing in South Dakota and something else in Washington. Nobody holds him accountable. He continues to portray himself here as pro-life."
The abortion issue gained local traction this year when the South Dakota legislature considered mounting a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade. "That was the first mainstream, serious debate we've had in this state about what we ought to do [about abortion]. But you didn't necessarily ...