There was a time when some Texans had high hopes for Greg Abbott’s tenure as Governor. (emphasis on the term “some”). The mostly jovial and mild-mannered former Attorney General gave the impression that, perhaps, his administration would bring forth an elevated political discourse which puts the needs of real Texans before inter-partisan bickering and personal vendettas.
Of course… we know how that turned out. Behind the friendly smile lies a politician that really takes that “bully” part of the bully pulpit to heart.
For evidence of this, we need look no further than last year, which found the Governor telling lawmakers that he was “keeping a list” of anyone who opposed his initiatives during the Special Session.
But while Abbott has indeed taken several retaliation measures, one particular lawmaker has received an unprecedented wave of attacks. Here’s more on that from Lisa Falkenberg of the Houston Chronicle…
[Sarah] Davis, a West University Place state representative, lawyer and breast cancer survivor elected in 2010, represents House District 134. She sits on the powerful appropriations committee and chairs the committee on general investigating and ethics. Her power and influence only go so far.
But she’s one of the few moderates who hasn’t given up on Texas politics, who is willing to fight the often-futile battle against motivated, moneyed ideologues who have hijacked the Republican Party.
And for that she has drawn the ire of one of the most powerful, moneyed ideologues of them all: Gov. Greg Abbott. The governor, in a rare move, has come after several moderate Republicans who aren’t inclined to carry his water, but he seems to have reserved a special vintage of vengeance for Davis.
He has not only endorsed Davis’ opponent, Susanna Dokupil, whose chief qualification seems to be that she once worked for Abbott at the attorney general’s office. He has hit the campaign trail for the elusive Dokupil,
Not only is HD 134 known as a notorious swing district, but it also has some other unique attributes, like being the home of the world-reknowned Texas Medical Center, Rice University and some of the most prominent biomedical research centers in the United States. For Governor Abbott to prop up an anti-vaxxer candidate in one of the most Doctor and Medical Professional-heavy electoral districts in the country?? Well…it smacks of either total ignorance or a simple lack of concern for the real issues of Texans in this district. Your guess is as good as mine.
Or perhaps, this fight serves as a proxy for Abbott’s fight against Texas Women. Most will recall that Davis’ record on women’s issues is starkly different than her Republican colleagues. Abbott, on the other hand, has distinguished himself as an ‘anti-woman Governor’ with all deliberate speed. Why else would he veto bi-partisan legislation designed to focus on Women’s Health issues?
Here’s more on that from Sophie Novack of the Texas Observer…
Texas has the highest maternal mortality rate in the developed world, the highest rate of repeat teen pregnancy in the United States, the highest uninsured rate in the country and an ongoing Zika outbreak that threatens pregnant women. Yet Governor Greg Abbott unilaterally ended a committee that advises the state on women’s health programs.
Abbott on Thursday vetoed a bill with bipartisan support by Senator Borris Miles, D-Houston, that would continue the Women’s Health Advisory Committee past September.
“I am shocked and frustrated by the governor’s veto,” said Representative Donna Howard, D-Austin, who wrote the House companion to Miles’ bill. “At no point during the past six months had the governor’s office expressed any concerns to me over the legislation. This absentee style is disgraceful, and it is now jeopardizing the health and safety of women across the state.”
A very confusing decision, especially after the Governor himself highlighted maternal mortality as a focus of the Special Session. If he cared that much about the issue, what sense does it make to scuttle a panel devoted to research and recommendation?
And in case you’re wondering… a co-sponsor of this bill in the Texas House? Rep. Sarah Davis.
Whatever the Governor’s motivations, one thing has become clear… Texas women are watching. Abbott’s curious attempts to oust Davis have drawn major headlines across the state and all over the country. But while he may believe that his efforts will draw far-right Primary voters to support Dokupil, most that actually live in the district are wondering if the attacks will ultimately serve to actually help Davis. Anecdotal evidence seems to suggest strong turnout for Davis, including some Democrats that voted in the Republican Primary just to support her. We’ll find out the final outcome with tonight’s Election results.
But one thing is for sure… this race has exposed a palpable weakness for Governor Abbott. The misguided decision to meddle in this race could ultimately prove more detrimental to his agenda, and his political future than anyone else.
So back to the opening question… Have Texas Women HAD IT with Greg Abbott?? We’ll find out some opening thoughts on that tonight, with more to come in November.