Wendy Davis' New Campaign Ad Reminds Us Greg Abbott Is Bad For Women — Which Doesn't Help
Since her 13-hour filibuster of an omnibus abortion bill launched her to the national stage in June 2013, Sen. Wendy Davis has been touted as a woman's champion. But amid criticism that she's a single-issue candidate, Davis has launched a gubernatorial campaign centered on her opponent, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, and how harmful he is for women. Davis' first TV commercial beats that drum again, but not before unsuccessfully burying it under rhetoric.
The ad, A Texas Story, details the story of a young mother raped by a Kirby Vacuum salesman in her home in 1998. The salesman was a sexual predator on probation, but hired by the company after they failed to perform a background check. The woman and her husband took the case to the Texas Supreme Court, where six judges, both Republican and Democrat, ruled that she had a right to sue Kirby. The ad zooms into a photo of Greg Abbott, who was one of the three judges that sided with the company, writing that it "owed no duty" to the woman.
The ad ends with Davis' unsubtle foreshadowing to the upcoming election: "Thank God, this time Greg Abbott lost."
And then the final screen, presented without a voiceover, pins Abbott to the political elite.
Abbott's spokesperson Amelia Chasse responded to the ad in an email to The Daily Caller:
This ad is a continuation of the type of rhetoric we’ve seen from a candidate who is paper-thin on substance and running a failing campaign devoid of any real vision for the future of Texas. Texans deserve better than the gutter politics they are getting from Sen. Davis.
While I disagree that Davis is "paper-thin on substance," she hasn't done a great job of representing her history in good, balanced policy that would shut down the one-trick pony talk. Unfortunately, based on Davis' campaign, Abbott's camp might have a point.
This isn't the first time that Davis has painted herself as an underdog against the big boys, while fervently insisting that she isn't, really, really isn't, just the pro-abortion candidate. At a speech celebrating the anniversary of her filibuster this June, Davis framed even that as a battle against a well-established club of rich, powerful good ol' boys. In talking about the 13-hour standoff, she used the word "abortion" just once in 24 minutes.
Try as she might, political insider comes second to Davis' main message: Greg Abbott doesn't care about women. It's the same one that we've heard from her throughout her campaign, albeit sometimes haplessly veiled. For weeks on end her supporter emails railed on the Republican-birthed sobriquet "abortion Barbie." The emails, which arrive in my inbox with a little ding on a daily basis, are guaranteed to contain two key words: "women" and "Abbott."
And you know what? Davis isn't wrong. Greg Abbott, by liberal standards, would be harmful to women if he got in office. He is a staunch supporter of the pro-life movement, and has opposed legislation that would make it easier for women to achieve equal pay in Texas.
But Texas isn't full of liberals. There hasn't been a Democratic governor elected since Ann Richards in 1995, and no Democrat has won a statewide office since 1994. No, Texas isn't a helplessly red state. But for the time being, that is the undeniable majority that Davis is up against.
The Real Clear Politics poll average of the Texas governor's race shows that Abbott has 50.5 percent of the vote to Davis' 36.8. Even more telling, a Public Policy Poll released in April showed that 49 percent of women voters prefer Abbott to Davis, compared to the 41 percent that favored Davis to Abbott.
Davis needs to frame her campaign outside of the confines of Abbott and his apparent hatred for women. It does seem like the most natural attack, but the numbers show that it just isn't cutting it. Davis has so much to bring to the table. I just wish she would better showcase it.
Images: YouTube/Wendy Davis, Getty