Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis on Saturday joined Texas Democratic Party leaders in criticizing Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott for campaigning with controversial rocker and conservative firebrand Ted Nugent.
“This isn’t about some aging rock star way past his prime that simply needs to go away,” Davis said during her remarks at the Texas Democratic Women Convention in Austin. “This is about Greg Abbott. It’s about his character, his judgment, his values when he stands on a stage next to someone like that and refers to him as his ‘blood brother.’”
Abbott, the likely Republican nominee for Texas governor, came under fire after he was accompanied by Nugent at two campaign events in North Texas this week. Nugent is known for a history of making inflammatory and offensive statements, including recent remarks in which he referred to President Obama as a “sub-human mongrel.”
Abbott spokesman Matt Hirsch brushed off Davis’ remarks at the event and questioned her intentions.
“Sen. Davis will say anything to avoid talking about the issue in this race, including her support for Obamacare and restricting the Second Amendment rights of Texans,” Hirsch said.
On Friday, Abbott indicated that he wants to move on from the controversy sparked by his appearances with Nugent, given that the rocker has publicly apologized.
"I believe Ted Nugent recognized his language was wrong and he rightly apologized," Abbott said in a statement. "This is not the kind of language I would use or endorse in any way. It's time to move beyond this, and I will continue to focus on the issues that matter to Texans."
Nugent offered a limited apology on Friday, indicating that he was sorry for causing any stir in the campaigns of Texas Republican leaders, including Abbott.
"I do apologize — not necessarily to the president — but on behalf of much better men than myself," Nugent said during an interview with conservative radio host and CNN political commentator Ben Ferguson. "I will try to elevate my vernacular to the level of those great men that I'm learning from in the world of politics."
On Saturday, Davis directed her attacks at what she called Abbott’s “cozy relationship” with Nugent, who has previously acknowledged having sex with underage girls.
“We won't let politicians hide behind the venom and the ugly history of predatory acts targeting underage girls by their campaign surrogates,” Davis said, adding that the campaign appearances called into question Abbott’s leadership.
“I can tell you this: I will be sitting at my desk with pen in hand to sign that bill,” Davis said.
Davis also recalled her filibuster on strict abortion regulations that propelled her into the national spotlight, saying her actions were prompted by people who felt denied their right to be heard by state leaders.
“These are men and women across the the state who are demanding that their voices be returned to the Texas Capitol. People who care about so many issues beyond just reproductive rights,” Davis said.
In her remarks, lieutenant governor candidate and state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte of San Antonio, who addressed the convention before Davis, also invoked the filibuster and the “women who had been silenced.”
“It was your voice on the Senate floor that night that those guys tried to silence, not just Wendy’s,” Van de Putte said.
Both candidates, who left without talking to reporters, reiterated Davis’ call for Abbott to settle a school finance lawsuit instead of defending the state’s funding system in court and criticized the state’s Republican leadership for staunchly opposing the Affordable Care Act and refusing a Medicaid expansion to cover impoverished adults. Texas' Republican leaders have argued that expanding a "broken" system would bankrupt the state.
Texas Tribune donors or members may be quoted or mentioned in our stories, or may be the subject of them. For a complete list of contributors, click here.