AUSTIN, Texas (Legal Newsline) – As Texans watched their favorite teams on Sunday, chances are football lovers saw at least one or two, or perhaps a dozen, ads aired by the two candidates competing to become Texas’ next governor.
In the past two months, state Sen. Wendy Davis, the Democratic nominee, has spent several million dollars airing television ads – all focused on attacking her Republican opponent and labeling him as an insider who will protect special interests if elected.
Conversely, Attorney General Greg Abbott, who has mostly refrained from going negative so far, is attempting to sway voters through stories of his overcoming adversity and plans to keep Texas moving forward.
“A guy in a wheelchair can move faster than traffic on some roads in Texas,” says Abbott as he zips past stopped vehicles in his wheelchair in the campaign’s latest TV ad.
“I’m Greg Abbott, and my plan adds billions for new road construction without raising taxes, fees or tolls. We pay for it by ensuring that money dedicated to roads will be spent only on roads – and no more taking highway funds by the Legislature to pay for their pet projects. Elect me and I’ll get Texas moving.”
While Abbott points the spotlight at himself in his ads, Davis has also focused the attention of her ads on Abbott in attempt to put him a different light.
In past TV ads, Davis has accused Abbott of siding against rape victims and not acting on allegations of sexual abuse. In her most recent 30-second spot, she accuses the attorney general of defending a hospital only after accepting a large campaign contribution.
“He was a Texas surgeon, reportedly performing operations while using cocaine. Two patients died, others were paralyzed. Doctors spoke out but the hospital did nothing to stop him,” a narrator in the Davis ad says.
“Families and victims sued the hospital. Then weeks after accepting a quarter-million-dollar campaign contribution from the hospital’s chairman, Greg Abbott got involved, using his office to go to court against the victims. Greg Abbott, another insider not working for you.”
According to the Houston Chronicle, Abbott’s office said he became involved in the federal lawsuit because the plaintiffs were challenging the state’s medical malpractice law, not because he was seeking to shield Baylor Regional Medical Center from liability.
The Chronicle also reported Davis spent $4 million in the month of August attacking Abbott.
Abbott, however, is not totally free from going negative.
On Sept. 18, he began airing his first negative ad hammering Davis on her ethics, asserting the state senator used her position “to win lucrative taxpayer-funded contracts then voted on bills that helped her own law firm,” adding that her legal work is part of an open FBI investigation.
In April, the Dallas Morning News reported that Davis’ legal work for the North Texas Tollway Authority was under investigation by the FBI.
Reach David Yates at firstname.lastname@example.org