Vol 31, Issue 47 Print Issue

Abbott's Silence Becomes Issue In Governor's Race

Wendy Davis and Greg Abbott at their respective announcements for governor of Texas.
Wendy Davis and Greg Abbott at their respective announcements for governor of Texas.

Marking an aggressive new tone, the Wendy Davis campaign hit Attorney General Greg Abbott again Friday for remaining silent on a major policy issue. 

In a press release, the Davis campaign cited a litany of news stories in which the Republican candidate declined to state his views on whether he supported the $5.4 billion in education cuts the Texas Legislature made in 2011.

“Greg Abbott refuses to share his views on the more than $5 billion in public education cuts because he supports them. His refusal to answer basic questions on education is indicative of his lack of leadership,” said Davis spokesman Bo Delp.

The attack underscores Team Davis’ efforts to exploit what it sees as a weakness in the Abbott camp: too much caution.

In recent days and weeks, Abbott has avoided taking firm positions on a variety of hot-button issues, including private school vouchers, a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants and the so-called “Texas DREAM Act,” that allows young undocumented immigrants to pay in-state tuition rates.

 

In September, Abbott wishy-washed his way through another controversy — this time over the plan to protect the threatened dunes sagebrush lizard and keep the federal government from listing it as a endangered species. The program has pitted environmentalists against the state government and exacerbated tensions between Big Oil and Not So Big Oil.

Asked by the Odessa American if the lizard protection plan was working as intended, Abbott split it right down the middle: “I can’t say that it is,” he said. “And I won’t say that it’s not.” No word yet on what Davis’ position on lizard protection might be.

For the record, Abbott took a mend-it-don’t-end-it approach on the DREAM Act, but hasn’t specified yet what the fix might be. He has also said it would be inappropriate for him to comment on the cuts since he’s the chief attorney defending the state in the ongoing school finance litigation.

It’s worth pointing out that Abbott hasn’t exhibited such caution in other legislative issues that have ended up in court, including the Voter ID law and the recent abortion restrictions that Davis tried to stop with her now famous filibuster.

Abbott spokesman Matt Hirsch called Davis’ latest missive “the same old, repeated, and worn out attacks.” He also took a shot at all the money she’s raised from out-of-state sources, one of Team Abbott’s major attack lines.

“Maybe when Sen. Davis has a break in her national fundraising tour, she’ll have time to offer positive contributions to enhance the discussion,” Hirsch said.  “But we’re not holding our breath. Meanwhile, Greg Abbott is talking directly to Texas voters and campaigning on specific ideas on how he will lead as Governor.”