The Lubbock Democrat accused by Attorney General Greg Abbott of calling his wife a “prop” denies ever making that remark, and he urged the front-running Republican candidate for governor to distance himself from rhetoric he says is hurtful to Hispanics.
“I categorically deny having ever referred to Mrs. Abbott as a prop. I think that would have been improper,” said Victor Hernandez, a Democrat who serves on the Lubbock City Council. “They made a mistake.”
The flap stems from a visit Abbott, accompanied by his wife, Cecilia, made to Lubbock last week. A day after he staged a get-out-the-vote rally at a local Mexican eatery, Hernandez said the attorney general was using the Jimenez Bakery and Restaurant as a “prop” designed to create the “illusion” that local Hispanics supported him.
A few hours after Hernandez and others blasted him, Abbott said from his Twitter account that Democrats were “frustrated about my #Latina wife” and what he described as growing ties between Republicans and Hispanics. Then on Friday, Abbott accused Hernandez of referring to his wife, the granddaughter of immigrants from Mexico, as a “prop.”
"It's deeply offensive that a Democrat elected official called my Latina wife of 32 years a 'prop,'" Abbott wrote on Twitter. Abbott linked to a blog post written by former Republican Party spokesman Bryan Preston. In the post, Preston wrote that a "source tells me that Hernandez callously dismissed her as a 'prop.'"
Preston told The Texas Tribune last week that his source “did not go into detail.” Preston did not immediately return a phone call or text message on Sunday.
Hernandez accused Republicans of trying to shift the focus away from divisive, anti-immigrant comments made in this primary election season.
“What they’re trying to do is redirect the attention to a falsehood on their part in order not to really address the issues that I raised,” Hernandez said. “They make no mention at all of the conduct they’ve been engaging in or the tactics that have been used.”
Hernandez said the 2014 GOP primaries, including the one going on right now in the rock-em-sock-em lieutenant governor’s race, have featured harsh rhetoric that is leaving potentially deep scars and long-lasting hurt feelings. (In at least one case, it has also drawn a rebuke from a prominent Hispanic Republican in the Legislature.)
The Lubbock city councilman also said Abbott’s recent description of drug cartel corruption in South Texas as similar to “third-world practices” fit into a pattern of strident talk that Hispanics are finding offensive.
Abbott has said he was speaking broadly about cartel corruption wherever it occurs and warned that those who deny its seeping into Texas are fooling themselves. (PolitFact Texas last month got to the bottom of the remark and the fallout from it.)
Multiple messages left this weekend for Abbott’s campaign were not returned.