Roll Call on Monday profiled... StemPAC, a new human embryonic stem cell research advocacy group that aims to promote the research more aggressively than any already existing group. The political action campaign -- which was founded by Democratic political advocate John Hlinko, who started the Draft Wesley Clark campaign in advance of the 2004 presidential election -- was created in May and formally launched in July. According to Roll Call, the group is "threatening to make the [embryonic stem cell] debate less about the science of the issue and more about the political ramifications" for legislators who oppose broad federal funding for the research. Hlinko says the group will push to form a nationwide grassroots campaign devoted to pressuring wavering lawmakers to support stem cell research using unused embryos created for fertility procedures that otherwise would be destroyed or discarded. StemPAC's strategy differs "significantly" from other groups that promote embryonic stem cell research, such as the Republican Main Street Partnership and the Coalition for the Advancement of Medical Research, because few of them take a hard-line political approach or attempt grassroots efforts that can compete with the efforts of some abortion-rights opponents. Some stem cell research advocates are worried that StemPAC's "aggressive moves" could end up hurting the "delicate bipartisan balance" necessary to pass embryonic stem cell research legislation in Congress, according to Roll Call. However, Hlinko said, "The proper thing to do is to be aggressively bipartisan and also be aggressive in getting the grassroots out," adding that the group has made a conscious effort to feature Republican supporters of the research -- including Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and former first lady Nancy Reagan -- on its Web site (Pierce, Roll Call, 8/8).

Roll Call

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