On the eve of an expected vote on controversial abortion restriction legislation, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst said Wednesday that he is confident the legislation will make it to the governor’s desk for signature during the current 30-day special session.
“I’m excited about this opportunity and want to get this bill passed,” Dewhurst said during the Laura Ingraham Show. “We had a last-minute filibuster two weeks ago. We’re not in the filibuster range right now, and we’re going to pass this bill.”
Dewhurst recently received criticism following an hours-long filibuster by Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, that helped kill the Republican-backed abortion restriction bill and two other measures on the last day of the first special session. Critics said he lost control of the Senate as protesters yelled and drowned out the floor action during a crucial vote, all in front of a national audience that had turned its attention to Texas during Davis’ filibuster. Dewhurst has blamed the bill's failure on the protesters, calling them an "unruly mob."
The proposed abortion legislation would require abortion facilities to meet the standards of an ambulatory surgical center and would ban most abortions after 20 weeks.
Abortion rights activists and legislators who oppose the bill say it would lead to the closure of almost all of the state’s abortion facilities and create a de facto abortion ban.
During the talk show, Dewhurst painted himself as a traditional conservative and highlighted his support for anti-abortion legislation, including defunding Planned Parenthood and helping to pass an abortion sonogram bill in 2011.
“I’ve been a strong pro-life advocate for all my life,” Dewhurst said. “This legislation is about protecting women and saving lives.”
Dewhurst also said he would oppose Democratic efforts to take control of the historically Republican state.
“We are a red state, a solid red state,” Dewhurst said. “There have been efforts to turn Texas blue — over my dead political body.”
Following Perry’s announcement that he would not seek re-election as governor earlier this week, Dewhurst said he looks forward to working with the governor during Perry’s last 18 months of an unprecedented stay in the governor’s mansion.
Dewhurst said he did not know whether Perry would make another presidential run in 2016.
“I think it’s something he’s going to take a hard look at,” Dewhurst said.
After his failed U.S. Senate run, which he lost to Ted Cruz, Dewhurst made no mention of his plans for 2014, but it could be a tough road to re-election for the lieutenant governor, whose challengers would include Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples and state Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston.
Patrick announced his candidacy for lieutenant governor after the abortion filibuster that ended the first special session, blaming the GOP leadership for the bill's failure.