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News in Texas race for Governor, Wendy Davis versus Greg Abbott

This post is a round up of some of what’s been written lately about the likely race between Wendy Davis and Greg Abbott next year.  The biggest news was this, Federal judge tosses key provision of Texas’ new abortion law.

A federal judge struck down key elements of Texas’ new abortion law Monday, heeding opponents’ warning that the provisions would force a third of the state’s abortion clinics to close and deny women access to the procedure.

U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel found that a provision due to go into effect Tuesday, requiring doctors to have hospital admitting privileges before performing abortions, was an unconstitutional burden that had no legitimate medical purpose.

And he partially struck down a second provision that restricts the use of abortion pills, saying doctors can disregard state mandates to protect a patient’s health.

Attorney General Greg Abbott, the leading Republican candidate for governor, announced an immediate appeal to the conservative 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. But as a strong opponent of abortion, Abbott added, “I have no doubt that this case is going all the way to the United States Supreme Court.”

Texas’ new law, which includes a ban on abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy that was not part of the lawsuit and takes effect Tuesday, is similar to abortion measures already on appeal in a half-dozen states.

Republican Gov. Rick Perry — who signed the law and has led a decadelong charge on abortion restrictions — said the provisions “reflect the will and values of Texans.”

But abortion rights advocates said the law was designed to deny access and ignore medical advances, making abortions hard to find and as unpleasant as possible.

“Today the women of Texas won a battle,” said state Democratic Party chairman Gilberto Hinojosa. “But we are prepared to keep fighting until the entire Republican war against women has been put to a stop.”

Sen. Wendy Davis, Democratic candidate for governor, said she wasn’t surprised by the ruling. The Fort Worth legislator rose to prominence with a 13-hour filibuster that temporarily derailed the abortion law in a special legislative session in June.

“As a mother, I would rather see our tax dollars spent on improving our kids’ school than defending this law,” she said.

The ruling was not a surprise, nor was Abbott’s appeal. Kuff has more, Injunction granted against HB2.

Greg Abbott and the Texas GOP’s voter ID law is causing trouble for women in particular.  Wendy Davis was forced to sign an affidavit when voting yesterday, GOP-Backed Texas Voter ID Law Could Help Wendy Davis.

Many voters-rights groups have recently complained about the new barriers to voting, which critics say can actually prevent poor and young voters from accessing their right to vote. Surprisingly, the group of disenfranchised voters may also include married women who change their names to match their husbands’ when they get married. Married women tend to vote more conservative than unmarried women.

Davis herself reportedly had to sign an affidavit testifying to her identity when she arrived in Fort Worth for early voting on Monday. (Davis changed her name from Wendy Russell when she married her ex-husband, Jeff Davis, whom she divorced in 2005.)

It was interesting to see, earlier in the day, a comment that Wendy Davis made explaining the difference between herself and Ted Cruz.

In case you were confused, Texas state senator and gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis explains the difference between her filibuster of a restrictive anti-abortion bill and the federal government shutdown Sen. Ted Cruz played a major role in causing:

“I was attempting to block a bill that would have harmed thousands of women across the state of Texas,” she said. “Never once, of course, did I threaten to literally shut down the state government for that purpose, and I certainly would never use the budget in the state of Texas for purposes of making a political statement.”

That’s pretty simple and clear, isn’t it? Davis also had something to say about Cruz and leadership:

“I think he demonstrated that being the loudest person in the room isn’t necessarily equivalent to being a leader,” Davis said. “I was disappointed to see that he was willing to put so many thousands of Texas families in harm’s way for purposes of making a political statement.”

That’s about the size of it. Although Cruz wasn’t just “willing” to put Texas (and Arizona, New Mexico, Alabama, Arkansas, New York, and every other state) families in harm’s way for the purposes of making a political statement. He was eager to do it. But then, Cruz and Davis each bear a striking similarity to their filibusters that grabbed national attention: Cruz’s filibuster was fake. Davis’s was the real deal.

Speaking of Ted Cruz, it looks like the tea party has worn out its welcome with traditional, aka Bush Republicans, Business, GOP establishment: Tea party is over.

Call it the wrath of establishment Republicans and corporate America, always considered the best of friends. Since the Republican takeover of the House in 2010, they’ve watched the GOP insurgents slow a transportation bill and reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank, block a treaty governing the high seas and stand in the way of comprehensive immigration legislation.

Part of the tea party strategy is attacking the federal government at will.  Of course Abbott sees suing the federal government as his number one job, which costs millions of dollars.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott likes to brag about fighting the Obama administration, memorably describing his workday: “I go into the office, I sue the federal government, and then I go home.”

He does not talk about how much taxpayers pay for that work.

To date, the state has spent nearly $4 million on 31 lawsuits against the federal government since 2004, according to records provided by Abbott’s office. Three were filed while George W. Bush was president, and 28 against the Obama administration. Expenses include salaries, overhead, travel, outside counsel and experts.

And he is fighting having to pay for one of his losses, Abbott and Davis Fight Before Fight Begins.

The gubernatorial contenders and their attorneys are battling over some $600,000 in legal fees stemming from a redistricting lawsuit that, when all was said and done, preserved the racial and political makeup of Davis’ Fort Worth swing district.

Republicans in the Legislature in 2011 drew her seat in a way that would have made it virtually impossible for a Democrat to win it, but Davis argued their plan would diminish minority voting rights. The courts sided with her, and she was re-elected in 2012, even though the district still leaned toward the GOP.

Her legal victory was made official in early September — more than two years after the Republican Legislature attempted to put in place its own controversial redistricting plan — when a three-judge federal panel in San Antonio ruled in a “final judgment” that she was entitled to recoup her legal costs.

Abbott also released his economic plan yesterday.  It’s nothing more than the worst of the bad ideas that Perry and the Texas tea party crowd loves, and an ignorant attempt to grab power. Or as Burka says:

Abbott’s ideas will have the effect of constricting the state’s economy rather than expanding it. He says next-to-nothing about public education, for example, nor does he address health care; in other words, he ignores the two biggest and costliest areas of state services. The only solace one can take in Abbott’s vision for the future of the state is that it resolves the question of whether he would be better or worse than Rick Perry. Astonishing as it may seem, I think he is worse than Perry.

The question must be asked: Is Abbott’s vision what Texans want for their government — or their families? Is this really a state whose leaders have no interest in improving the lives of its citizens? Is Texas really going the way of Arkansas and other backward states where all that matters is guns? I do not believe that Greg Abbott’s vision for Texas is the vision shared by most Texans, but that’s why we have elections and horse races. [Emphasis added]

As for his relationship with the Legislature, his desire for expanded line-item veto authority will create tension with the Lege. If Abbott continues on the course he has set, the 2015 session will bring a mammoth constitutional confrontation between the governor and the Legislature. The Legislature is not going to sit by and allow the governor to install himself as the czar of state government with control over the purse strings. Abbott has no experience in dealing with the Legislature, and he will find out soon enough that lawmakers have their own ideas about who is in charge of state fiscal policy, and they don’t think it’s the governor.

Yes he will ignore all the issues that matter to Texans like public and higher education, health care, and a sane transportation plan. And instead talk the “no tax speak” that wealthy Texans, big business, and corporations crave.

The fact that Abbott is running for Rick Perry’s fourth term should not surprise anyone. Wendy Davis is going to give Texas voters a true alternative to a fourth Perry term. Davis is running as a voice for the voiceless and one who will work for the issues that matter for poor, working, and middle class Texans.

Further Reading:
Abbott – In it for Himself.


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