Over the weekend Texans received something of a campaign season bombshell that has now turned into a national story. In advance of her book’s release date, Wendy Davis revealed that she, like many other Texas women, has had to terminate two of her pregnancies due to severe fetal abnormalities. Here are more details from the El Paso Times, via AP…
Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis, who became a national political sensation by filibustering her state’s tough new restrictions on abortion, discloses in her upcoming memoir that she had an abortion in the 1990s after discovering that the fetus had a severe brain abnormality.
In “Forgetting to be Afraid,” Davis also writes about ending an earlier ectopic pregnancy, in which an embryo implants outside the uterus. Davis says she considered revealing the terminated pregnancies during her nearly 13-hour speech on the floor of the Texas Senate last summer — but decided against it, saying “such an unexpected and dramatically personal confession would overshadow the events of the day.”
The Associated Press purchased an early copy of the book, which goes on sale Tuesday.
Both pregnancies happened before Davis, a state senator from Fort Worth, began her political career and after she was already a mother to two young girls. Davis catapulted to national Democratic stardom after her filibuster temporarily delayed passed of sweeping new abortion restrictions. She’s now running for governor against Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott, who is heavily favored to replace Republican Gov. Rick Perry next year.
After the news broke, Davis sat down with Robin Roberts for an interview on Good Morning America, where she was pressed about the interesting timing of her book release less than 60 days before the 2014 election.
The timing factor is interesting for sure, but interesting is not the same as illegal or unethical. Politicians write and sell books all the time. Politicians also do all sorts of other types of work while campaigning… you know, like not stepping down from being Attorney General and not excusing yourself from cases that could have a direct effect on your upcoming election.
For the Abbott campaign, Davis’ book presents a perilous quandary of how to respond. So they chose to go the path of ethics. Here’s more from the Houston Chronicle on that…
Republican gubernatorial nominee Greg Abbott asked the Texas Ethics Commission on Monday to rule whether opponent Wendy Davis’ book deal and tour crosses the line on illegal corporate campaign contribution because it is tied to her ongoing campaign.
Davis’ campaign immediately labeled the filing a “frivolous stunt.”
In a three-page letter requesting an advisory opinion, Abbott campaign manager Wayne Hamilton asked whether a book tour paid for and promoted by a corporation constitute in-kind political contributions. Under state law, corporate contributions to a campaign are illegal.
While the request for an ethics opinion makes no mention of Davis, the name of her publisher and details of her book deal are the same as those in the letter.
“Because of the proximity of the book’s publishing and the election, the candidate will be using political funds on voter contact at the same time the publisher is using corporate funds to promote the book,” reads the letter, insisting that political observers “seem to agree that the promotion of the book essentially equals promotion of the candidate’s candidacy.”
Davis’ campaign spokesman Zac Petkanas said the campaign was “very careful to follow every legal guideline.
“This frivolous stunt by the Abbott campaign is the clearest sign yet how worried they are about the power of Wendy’s story,” he said.
Were Greg Abbott running a more ethical campaign himself, this line of attack may garner more teeth. But unless he’s planning to resign from office early, relax Voter ID laws reveal the locations of dangerous chemical locations, the request to the Texas Ethics Commission is little more than a small stone within Abbott’s magnanimous glass house. Plus, what can the Republican really yield from trying to stop the tour anyway? At best, attacking Davis for the timing of her book can motivate a few more people in his base… ones that really care about the “inside baseball” of politics and were solid GOP supporters anyway. At worst, the attack makes Abbott look like a hypocrite.
On the other hand, Davis has nothing to lose from releasing her book now. Scoring an interview on GMA rockets her name ID back to the forefront of the news at a time when she most needs it, and motivates the Pro-Choice base of both parties to really show up and show out this November. Yes… in the real world, there are still Pro-Choice Republicans in Texas, the very people who Wendy Davis is counting on to win in 2014.
One more calculus that may have been made by the Davis campaign here. Even more important than what and who everyone is talking about, guess who they are not talking about? The correct answer is Greg Abbott. In a critical time for the Republican to be connecting with voters over his personal story of tragedy followed by triumph, Davis has managed to stop Abbott’s momentum dead in its tracks. As the old saying goes, ‘All politics is local’. But Wendy Davis is proving right now that the best politics is personal.