In a Denver Post candidate survey, Pueblo-area Democratic state house candidate Alonzo Payne alleges that his primary opponent, Donald Valdez, “is anti-choice and is willing to force his own personal convictions on women, forcing them to have barriers to their own health care.”
You read that correctly. That’s a pro-choice Democrat attacking another Democrat for being anti-choice. A rarity in Colorado, where Democrats like to use the easy-to-understand abortion issue to distinguish themselves from the GOP–not from each other.
A look at Valdez’s Facebook page and further investigation turned up nothing on Valdez’s position on choice. So I called Valdez to find out if he’s anti-choice and why.
In an interview, Payne told me he is pro-choice and that fellow Democrats heard Valdez state his anti-choice stance at the Rio Grande County assembly. Multiple sources I interviewed confirmed the comment by Valdez.
Alex Raines, a Payne supporter, was delegate to the Rio Grande County Assembly, where he heard Valdez say, during a question-and-answer session, that he would not support pro-choice legislation.
Raines, an attorney, was representing Payne at the country assembly, and told the group that, unlike Valdez, Payne was pro-choice.
“[Valdez’s] statement was that he supports a women’s right to choose for life,” Raines told me. After a number of questions from delegates who were confused about what “right to choose life” meant, Valdez said he “would not support legislation that allows a woman to terminate her pregnancy,” according to Raines.
Valdez denied saying this, adding that “we need a broader conversation” about what pro-choice is.
Another delegate at the Rio Grande assembly, Joe Schlabach, also said he witnessed the question-and-answer exchange with Valdez, and Schlabach concluded that Valdez “is pro-life” and “would support anti-choice legislation.”
As the secretary-treasurer of the Rio Grande Democratic Party, Schlabach said he is not endorsing a candidate in the race.