Former U.S. Rep. Pete Gallego, D-Alpine, fired back hard on Monday at a national Republican leader who recently called him “a little bit lazy” late last week.
Gallego’s camp did not respond in real time, citing a focus that day on a shooting at his hometown high school. But on Monday, Gallego fired back in a lengthy statement, calling the comment “racist rhetoric.”
During a Sept. 8 news conference in Washington, D.C., U.S. Rep. Greg Walden of Oregon, the chairman of the House Republican campaign arm, took aim at Gallego’s efforts so far to recapture the Texas 23rd District for Democrats.
"Pete Gallego is not exactly the most aggressive campaigner,” Walden said. “I mean he’s got a rap of being a little bit lazy. It’s not just me. That’s what I pick up from people."
“Nearly every Mexican American from my generation has at some point been called a 'lazy Mexican,’” Gallego wrote. “It was the epithet we grew up with. Latinos in my generation know exactly what Greg Walden was saying.”
Gallego is running against U.S. Rep. Will Hurd, R-San Antonio, in the state’s only competitive federal race, the campaign to represent Texas’ 23rd Congressional District, which sprawls across large stretches of West Texas.
“While I'm always offended by racist comments, I'm glad to be on Mr. Walden's mind,” Gallego added. “I learned in elementary school that no one tries to tackle you unless they think you have the ball.”
“On November 8th, voters in TX-23 will show Will Hurd, Greg Walden, and Donald Trump what they think of racist commentary,” he continued. “And, until then, Chairman Walden has a standing invitation to come to the 23rd and call me 'lazy' to my face.”
The House GOP campaign arm subsequently fired back at Gallego.
“Pete Gallego wants to paint the Republican Party as racists while pointing to Trump but it was just a few weeks ago when Gallego was claiming there would be Trump/Gallego voters," NRCC spokeswoman Katie Martin wrote in an email. "So is Pete now saying the majority of the voters in this Republican leaning district are racists?”
Gov. Greg Abbott is hitting the campaign trail for Hurd.
Abbott will volunteer and knock on doors for the vulnerable incumbent Saturday in the Alamo City, Hurd's campaign said in an email Monday to supporters. The campaign said Abbott's presence "shows the dedication the local and state leaders have to help us maintain this seat."
Abbott has been keeping a relatively low profile since he was severely burned during a family vacation earlier this year. Hurd is the first candidate Abbott is stumping for since the governor's brief stint as a surrogate for Ted Cruz before the Lone Star State's March 1 presidential primary.
The television air war in the CD-23 contest is intensifying as well.
A GOP super PAC called the Congressional Leadership Fund announced Tuesday that it would spend an additional $900,000 on television advertising to back Hurd. CLF is spending $1.7 million to re-elect the freshman congressman.
Republican groups — the NRCC, the CLF and the Hurd campaign — have reserved far more television time than Democratic groups. According to a source tracking media buys, Republicans have $700,000 more in television advertising reserved through Election Day than the Democratic coalition of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the House Majority PAC (a Democratic super PAC) and the Gallego campaign.
The Texas 23rd is a sprawling district with media markets that are relatively inexpensive when compared to other House races that feature competitive Senate, gubernatorial and presidential contests. These are large sums, but the bang for the buck is bigger in southwest Texas — meaning television airwaves are saturated with these Congressional ads.
A pro-Hillary Clinton super PAC is re-airing claims that then-Attorney General Greg Abbott nixed a lawsuit in 2010 against Trump University, the beleaguered school affiliated with the current GOP presidential nominee.
The super PAC, Correct the Record, released a video Wednesday featuring John Owens, the former Abbott staffer who went public earlier this year with his concerns that Abbott gave Donald Trump special treatment by passing on legal action against the school.
In the video, which clocks in at five-and-a-half minutes, Owens reiterates to the camera much of his initial account, saying his division in the attorney general's office built a multimillion-dollar case against Trump U., but Abbott vetoed it due to the school's famous namesake.
Three years later, Trump gave a total of $35,000 to Abbott's gubernatorial campaign. Those donations are receiving fresh scrutiny as Democrats zero in on another attorney general who decided not to go after Trump U. — Florida's Pam Bondi. There are, however, significant differences between the two state's approaches to Trump U.
Abbott's office fired back at the super PAC video, insisting that he was never involved in deciding whether to prosecute Trump U. When Owens first made the claims, his boss at the time of the Trump U. probe, David Morales, issued a statement saying it was his decision not to pursue charges against the school because it had already left Texas.
"Hillary Clinton has lied about her emails, she has lied about Benghazi, she has lied about her health and now she is lying about Greg Abbott," Abbott spokesman John Wittman said in a statement Wednesday.