OLYMPIA, Washington (Reuters) - A Republican U.S. House candidate in Washington state whose comments about abortion and rape angered women’s rights groups said Thursday he planned to concede defeat to his Democratic opponent.
John Koster, a former dairy farmer turned Tea Party favorite, blamed the loss on lackluster financial support from state and national Republican leaders and said he would make his concession to Democrat Suzan DelBene official on Friday morning.
DelBene, a former Microsoft Corp executive, led Koster with 53.3 percent of the vote to 46.7 percent with about 75 percent of the ballots counted. He has now lost multiple bids for the U.S. House.
Koster’s remarks drew comparisons to those of two Republican U.S. Senate candidates, Richard Mourdock in Indiana and Todd Akin in Missouri, who also were defeated in Tuesday’s election.
Akin in August was widely rebuked even in his own party for saying that women have natural defenses against pregnancy from “legitimate rape” and Mourdock said during a debate that pregnancy from rape was “something that God intended to happen.”
Koster, who has long opposed abortion, was asked during a fundraising appearance if there were any circumstances under which he would approve of terminating a pregnancy.
“When a mother’s life is in danger ... I‘m not going to make that decision,” Koster said in the remarks, a recording of which was released in late October by a liberal activist group.
“Incest is so rare, I mean, it’s so rare. But the rape thing, you know, I know a woman who was raped and kept her child, gave it up for adoption. She doesn’t regret it. In fact, she is a big pro-life proponent,” he said.
Koster continued by asking a rhetorical question: “But on the rape thing, it’s like, how does putting more violence onto a woman’s body and taking the life of an innocent child that’s a consequence of this crime, how does that make it better?”
Koster’s campaign manager, Larry Stickney, said the state Republican party gave Koster less than $10,000 and the national committee less than $80,000.
“To be frank, we were on our own. Yet thanks to people such as you, we nearly overcame the odds,” Koster said in a message to supporters.
State Republican leaders said they wanted to see Koster meet certain campaign goals before they offered more money.
“We tried everything we could to work with him. He refused to meet us halfway,” state Republican Party Chairman Kirby Wilbur said. “John Koster lost this race. Nobody but John Koster lost this race.”
Writing by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Alex Dobuzinskis and Lisa Shumaker