Texas Democrats rising star Wendy Davis continues her negative campaign against paraplegic opponent.
By Sara O’Connor
Whoa, whoa, whoa, Wendy. This new ad is out of line. As the Texas gubernatorial election nears, and Democrat Wendy Davis is still 11 points behind in the polls, it seems her campaign is (still) going dirty. State Senator Davis is running a campaign against Republican Greg Abbott, who is currently the Attorney General of Texas. Davis’ campaign released the below ad, entitled, “Justice,” earlier this week. It was met with harsh criticism.
Shot in black and white, the ad immediately feels cold. It opens with the narrator saying, “A tree fell on Greg Abbott. He sued and got millions.” The tone the narrator uses when saying this is disapproving – implying General Abbott was wrong to sue for medical costs, physical pain, mental anguish, and physical impairment, as well as lost wages. It’s ironic that Davis would attack General Abbott for asking someone else to pay his medical bills, since the Texas Democratic Party supports a single-payer healthcare system.
The commercial goes on to list three instances in which it claims General Abbott has been “working against other victims.” The ad finally says, “He’s not for you,” hammering home the point that Abbott doesn’t side with the little guy. As is expected in political ads, no context is given, leaving the audience to assume General Abbott really is working against other victims. It may have been more effective if the opening graphic wasn’t an empty wheelchair – but it was.
Mentioning Abbott’s disability at all was what seriously weakened this ad. Otherwise, it would have been powerful. By putting everything into the context that Greg Abbott is a paraplegic, the Davis campaign made themselves the target for criticism. It turned the message from, “He’s not for you” because of these rulings, to “he’s not for you” because he’s in a wheelchair. The goal of this ad is to make Abbott seem elitist and uncaring. Instead, it makes Wendy Davis look desperate and indecent. And worse, at first glance, it seems like the Davis campaign is criticizing Abbott for being in a wheelchair.
This isn’t the first time this has happened. Now that these types of remarks have happened at least twice, I don’t think it’s a coincidence. The undercurrent of the commercial is that Greg Abbott is unfit to be governor because he is in a wheelchair. It’s a sad, small, hurtful argument. It’s depraved and wrong.
Commercials like this make me wonder: what would Wendy Davis stop at? What wouldn’t she say? What would she consider beyond the pale? And do Texans want a person like that representing them as Governor?
Full disclosure: I worked in a paid position with the Abbott campaign for two months. I am no longer with the campaign.
Sara O’Connor was born and raised in east Central Florida. After graduating with honors from Florida State University, she moved to the Great White North. After eight winter months, she came to her senses and moved back to where she could enjoy 105 degree weather.