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Republican governor calls for school finance reform in address
Video from KRIV-TV Fox 26 Houston via YouTube
In his inaugural address, Abbott takes swipe at Washington for threatening state’s “sovereignty”
♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitcs.com editor
AUSTIN, Texas (CFP) — Republican Greg Abbott took the oath of office as Texas governor with a pledge to keep his state “on a path that ensures that years from now, people will stand on this very ground as grateful to this generation as we are to past generations.”
During his inauuration as the Lone Star State’s 48th governor January 20, Abbott also took a swipe at Washington’s perceived intrusions into his state’s authority.
“As governor, I will continue my legacy of pushing back against Washington if they spend too much, regulate too much or violate our state sovereignty,” he said. “Any government that uses the guise of fairness to rob us of our freedom will get a uniquely Texas response — ‘Come and take it.'”
“We Texans aren’t spoiling for a fight, but we won’t shrink from one.”
Abbott, 57, who served eight years as state attorney general before winning the governorship in November, said the priorities of his administration would include road construction, increasing the water supply and keeping Texas “number one in the nation for job creation.”
Abbott also noted the unusual nature of his ascent in state politics: His wife wife, Cecelia, is Texas’s first Latina first lady, and Abbott himself uses a wheelchair after being paralyzed in an accident 30 years ago.
“I am living proof that we live in a state where a young man’s life can literally be broken in half, and yet he can still ruse up to become (governor.)”
Abbott succeeds Republican Rick Perry, who served 14 years as governor, the longest tenure in Texas history. Perry is considering a bid for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.
View video of Abbott’s inaugural address:
Ad notes that her opponent, Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott, uses a wheelchair
FORT WORTH, Texas (CFP) — Texas State Senator Wendy Davis is defending a controversial new television ad noting that her Republican opponent in the governor’s race, Attorney General Greg Abbott, uses a wheelchair and accusing him of being unsympathetic to other accident victims.
Abbott was paralyzed after a 1984 accident in which a tree fell on him while jogging. He received a reported $10 million settlement.
During a campaign appearance in Fort Worth on October 13, Davis, the Democratic nominee for Texas’s top job, insisted that the ad points out Abbott’s “hypocrisy” in opposing efforts by other accident victims to seek redress in the courts, as he did.
“Greg Abbot has built a career kicking the ladder down behind him and denying to others the very same justice that he both deserved,” Davis said.
The Abbott campaign has dismissed Davis’s ad as “disgusting.”
“Senator Davis’s decision to double down on her severe error in judgment is shameful and shows that she is unfit to be governor,” the campaign said in a statement.
Davis, who trails Abbott by double digits in most polls, has faced an avalanche of media criticism — from both the left and the right — since the ad began airing October 10.
The ad begins, “A tree fell on Greg Abbott, who sued and got millions. Since then, he’s spent his career working against other victims.”
The ad goes to criticize Abbott for arguing in court that an amputee wasn’t disabled because she had an artificial limb and for opposing a suit by a rape victim against a company that failed to do a background check on a sex offender.
The ad ends, “Greg Abbott. He’s not for us.”
Abbott has talked about his disability during the course of his campaign and even ran an ad showing voters how he rehabilitated himself by wheeling his chair up and down a parking garage.
View the Davis ad:
Perry insists he was standing up for the rule of law when he vetoed funding for a local prosecutor jailed for drunken driving
♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics.com editor
AUSTIN, Texas (CFP) — With a defiant and determined tone, Republican Texas Governor Rick Perry is vowing to fight his indictment on two felony charges stemming from his veto of a funding bill for an Austin prosecutor who refused his demand that she resign after being arrested for drunken driving.
“I stood up for the rule of law in the state of Texas, and if I had to do it again, I would make the exact same decision,” Perry said in an interview with Fox News Sunday on August 17. “This is not the way that we settle … political differences in this country. You don’t do it with indictments. We settle our political differences at the ballot box.”
A grand jury in Travis County, which includes Austin, indicted Perry on felony charges of abuse of power and coercion stemming from his veto of $7.5 million in funding for a public integrity unit in the office of Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg. If convicted, he could face prison time.
In April 2013, Lehmberg, a Democrat, was arrested for driving with a blood alcohol level nearly three times the legal limit, and video showed her being combative with the arresting officers. She pleaded guilty and served 20 days in jail.
Perry demanded the Lehmberg resign and threatened to veto funding for the public integrity unit — which investigates elected officials across Texas — if she refused to go. When Lehmberg refused to resign, Perry vetoed the funding.
“I had lost confidence in her. The public had lost confidence in her. And I did what every governor has done for decades, which is make a decision on whether or not it was in the proper use of state money to go to that agency,” Perry told Fox News Sunday.
Many Republicans in Texas, including Perry, have long been critical of the public integrity unit, saying it empowers Democratic prosecutors elected in Democrat-leaning Travis County to launch politically motivated investigations of Republicans.
A Republican judge appointed a special prosecutor, San Antonio attorney Mike McCrum, to investigate the circumstances of Perry’s veto after a complaint was filed by a liberal advocacy group.
Early in the Obama administration, McCrum had been considered for an appointment as a federal prosecutor, with the backing of Texas’s two GOP senators. But he withdrew his name in 2010 after the appointment stalled in the Senate.
Perry, the longest-serving governor in Texas history, is not running for re-election this year. But he is considering making a bid for the White House in 2016, after making an unsuccessful presidential run in 2012.
Davis, who shot to national prominence for filibustering a 20-week abortion ban, now says she objected only to the way the law was written
♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics.com editor
DALLAS (CFP) — Texas State Senator Wendy Davis, the likely Democratic nominee for governor, now says she would support a ban on abortions after 20 weeks as long as the final decision were left up to mothers and their doctors, rather than under circumstances defined by the legislature.
Last June, Davis garnered national attention by leading a more than 11-hour filibuster that delayed efforts by the Republican-controlled Texas Legislature to pass a bill that would have prohibited abortions after 20 weeks.
That national attention helped fuel Davis’s entry into the governor’s race, where she is expected to face Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott.
But in an interview with the editorial board of The Dallas Morning News, published February 11, Davis said she could have supported the bill if it had been written differently.
“My concern, even in the way the 20-week ban was written in this particular bill, was that it didn’t give enough deference between a woman and her doctor making this difficult decision and instead tried to legislatively define what it was,” she told the paper.
She said less than 1 percent of abortions in Texas occur after 20 weeks of pregnancy, and most of those are in cases where the mother’s health was in danger or there were fetal abnormalities.
“I would line up with most people in Texas who would prefer that that’s not something that happens outside of those two arenas,” she said.
The bill that Davis filibustered also required abortion clinics to meet the same requirements as outpatient surgery centers and forced abortion doctors to get admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. Davis also objected to both of those provisions.
Her filibuster ran out the clock on a special legislative session called by Governor Rick Perry. He promptly called another special session – which cost Texas taxpayers $800,000 – and the legislature passed the abortion restrictions, which are now being challenged in court.
After The Dallas Morning News reported Davis’s comments, her campaign insisted that what she said did not amount to a change in her position. But her comments lit up the message board on the newspaper’s Web site, where she was called “flip flop Barbie” and readers questioned the point of her filibuster.
Abbott has made Davis’s filibuster an issue in conservative Texas, telling a crowd of anti-abortion activists in January that Davis is “partnering with Planned Parenthood to return Texas to late term abortion on demand.”
Abbott has been defending the new abortion restrictions in court.
Davis’s latest comments on abortion come as her campaign was fighting back against questions about the details of her life story she has told during the campaign.
Davis has highlighted her past as a divorced teenage mother who lived in a trailer before working her way through Texas Christian University and Harvard Law School. But in a January 18 story, The Morning News challenged some of those details:
- Davis divorced at 21, not 19 as she has previously said, and lived in a trailer for only a few months after the divorce with her daughter, Amber, before moving into an apartment.
- Three years later, she married for the second time, and her husband helped pay for the remainder of her education at TCU and law school at Harvard. Together, they had a second daughter, Dru.
- She left her second husband, Jeff Davis, the day after the last payment was made on her student loans at Harvard, according to Jeff Davis.
- When they divorced, Jeff Davis was granted custody of both daughters, and Wendy Davis was ordered to pay $1,200 in monthly child support.
After the story ran, Davis issued a statement clarifying some of the details of her life story. However, she defended overall impression left by her previous characterizations.
“The truth is that at age 19, I was a teenage mother living alone with my daughter in a trailer and struggling to keep us afloat on my way to a divorce,” she said. “And I knew then that I was going to have to work my way up and out of that life if I was going to give my daughter a better life and a better future, and that’s what I’ve done.”
Davis, who gained national attention for leading a filibuster against abortion restrictions, will likely face off against GOP Attorney General Greg Abbott.
♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics.com editor
FORT WORTH, Texas (CFP) – Democratic State Senator Wendy Davis has launched a bid for Texas governor, hoping to ride notoriety from her filibuster against new abortion restrictions last summer all the way to the Lone Star State’s top office.
Davis, 50, kicked off her campaign at a high school in suburban Fort Worth. But despite her very public association with the issue of abortion, she did not mention the a-word during her opening announcement.
Instead, Davis chose a populist focus on fulfilling what she called “the promise of Texas,” including improving education and battling big-money interests in state politics.
“Real leaders know that real problems deserve real solutions,” Davis said. “That’s the approach I brought to Austin, and that’s what I’ll do as your next governor.”
Davis, a single mother who worked her way through college and then Harvard Law School, also said that “Texas deserves a leader who understands that making education a priority creates good jobs for Texans.”
With no other major Democrat yet in the race, she is seen as the most likely opponent for the expected Republican nominee, Attorney General Greg Abbott. The incumbent, Governor Rick Perry, is retiring after 14 years in office.
Given that no Democrat has won a statewide race since 1994, Abbott starts the race as the prohibitive favorite. He also currently has a more than 20-to-1 advantage in fundraising over Davis, although her national profile will probably enable her to narrow that gap.
However, a poll released October 2 by the Texas Lyceum, a non-partisan public interest group, showed Abbott leading Davis by only an eight-point margin, 29 percent to 21 percent, with half of Texas voters saying they’re still undecided. (The poll’s margin of error was plus or minus 3.5 percent.)
While Abbott’s lead is slight, the poll also showed that 55 percent of Texans approved of Perry’s job performance and 62 percent thought the state’s economy was better than the national economy — both figures that bode well for the GOP nominee.
Davis, who represents a Fort Worth-area district, is best known nationally for leading a more than 11-hour filibuster last June that delayed efforts by the Republican-controlled Texas Legislature to pass a anti-abortion bill.
The bill would have prohibited bill abortions after 20 weeks, required abortion clinics to meet the same requirements as outpatient surgery centers and forced abortion doctors to get admitting privileges at nearby hospitals.
Her filibuster ran out the clock on a special legislative session called by Perry. He promptly called another special session – which cost Texas taxpayers $800,000 – and the legislature passed the abortion restrictions, which are now being challenged in court.
Republicans who supported the measures said they were an effort to protect the health of women getting abortions at clinics and to protect unborn children past the fifth month of pregnancy. But Texas abortion clinics and their Democratic allies assailed the new rules, claiming that they would force many clinics to close and make abortions harder to obtain.