The Brief: Texas Political News for Aug. 19, 2013

Greg Abbott speaking to supporters at the American Wind Power Center in Lubbock on July 17, 2013.
Greg Abbott speaking to supporters at the American Wind Power Center in Lubbock on July 17, 2013.

The Big Conversation

The politics of Twitter spilled into the governor's race over the weekend.

On Sunday, Democratic groups slammed Attorney General Greg Abbott for tweeting a response to a supporter who called state Sen. Wendy Davis "retard Barbie."

"@GregAbbott_TX would absolutely demolish idiot @WendyDavisTexas in Gov race - run Wendy run! Retard Barbie to learn life lesson," the supporter tweeted

"Thanks for your support," Abbott responded.

Abbott's tweet came under fire from the Democratic Governors Association, whose spokesman, Danny Kanner, wrote in a statement to Politico: "These disgusting attacks against Wendy Davis have no place in the political discourse and they say a lot more about the Republican men launching them than her. Clearly, they know that Wendy Davis offers the kind of real change that Texas voters want and are scared to death of her because of it."

The Texas Democratic Party piled on. “That Greg Abbott would thank a supporter for calling Senator Wendy Davis a ‘Retard Barbie’ is absolutely disgusting and disturbing," party chairman Gilberto Hinojosa said in a statement.

Abbott later returned to Twitter to address the matter, writing "FYI: I thank supporters on Twitter, but I don't endorse anyone's offensive language. Stay positive."

The flare-up between Abbott and Democrats comes as reports indicate that Davis, the Fort Worth Democrat who famously filibustered a high-profile abortion bill in June, appears increasingly likely to run for governor despite facing long odds against the well-funded Abbott.

"First, some Democratic heavyweights privately are pressing the idea that the race, although difficult, is winnable," writes Wayne Slater of The Dallas Morning News. The second argument that apparently has proved persuasive is that, however tough, somebody has to step up. Why not her?"

Meanwhile, speculation about Davis' thought process and political fortunes continues to swirl. The latest comes from two former Democratic gubernatorial candidates, Chris Bell and Bill White, who said in interviews with the Austin American-Statesman that they're optimistic about a possible Davis candidacy.

“If Wendy runs and gets the nomination, she’ll help move our state forward regardless of any short-term political prospects,” White said.

Culled

•    Pollster tests Chan for Senate (San Antonio Express-News): "Phones in Texas Senate District 25 were ringing Friday, while calls to Councilwoman Elisa Chan were unanswered amid fallout from her recorded homophobic remarks and opposition to a nondiscrimination ordinance. In the calls to district voters, a pollster tested Chan's name recognition against incumbent Donna Campbell and San Antonio businessman Mike Novak, who last week declared his intention to run for the seat. As the poll was happening, San Antonians were reacting to news that Chan made a series of divisive anti-gay remarks during a staff meeting at which she was secretly recorded."

•    Regent says records contained evidence of wrongdoing (Austin American-Statesman): "The University of Texas System regent who is facing impeachment defended himself this week with a nine-page letter to the House committee investigating his conduct. In it, Regent Wallace Hall Jr. says he has found evidence that lawmakers sought to influence the admissions process and that school officials inflated donation statistics, among other things. … One section of the letter says a state senator pressured UT into admitting an applicant by reminding a school official 'of recent legislative action taken to benefit The University.' The letter also says a state representative’s child who did not meet admissions standards got into a UT graduate school."

•    Judge halts challenge to CSCOPE curriculum (Austin American-Statesman): "Conservative activists’ efforts to stop the use of controversial classroom lessons in a Central Texas school district hit a legal roadblock Friday. State District Judge J. Allan Garrett, speaking to a courtroom audience filled with teachers and administrators from the Llano school district, ruled that a lawsuit over the lessons could not proceed due to procedural issues."

Quote to Note: "If I had my guesses right now, I'd say she might go for it. That's just based on maybe wishful thinking, rather than what is the best course for her." — State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, to the Express-News on whether Wendy Davis will run for governor

Must-Read

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