What The Media Is Missing About Wendy Davis’s New Ad

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Far too many media outlets can’t get past the first image of Wendy’s new ad, nor do they understand the audience she’s speaking to with Election Day a bit more than three weeks away.

Last week the Davis campaign released “Justice,” an ad that rightfully points out Greg Abbott’s hypocrisy in using the judicial system to gain a multi-million-dollar settlement for himself, and then as a member of that system routinely denied that same justice from others.

Watch it here:

The ad ties together two of the hits the Davis team has been landing for months — that Abbott routinely sided against rape victims on the state’s highest court, and enabled a hospital to defend a sociopathic surgeon rather than support the victims he maimed — and added a new wrinkle: Abbott argued against a woman who lost a leg, claiming she wasn’t disabled.

Of course, think about all of the other potential hits the ad left out:

  • Abbott is defending $5.4 billion in unconstitutional cuts to public school funding that Wendy Davis filibustered in 2011
  • Abbott allowed his donors to raid the state’s Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas for millions of dollars
  • Abbott is appealing the decision to block a photo voter ID plan a judge called an “unconstitutional poll tax”
  • Abbott pays his female staffers less than their equally qualified male counterparts
  • Abbott thinks rape and incest victims should be denied the right to an abortion

The list goes on and on, and while it’s easy to argue about what a campaign should and should not do, Davis spokesperson Zac Petkanas said the campaign had tested the ad with focus groups, and therefore we can infer that it clearly proved a powerful way to move the voters they need to persuade.

The three instances in the ad offer perhaps the best character assault on Greg Abbott. Those other issues I listed above speak as much to policy disagreements as well as character; the incidents in the ad make clear that Greg Abbott is not the kind of person Texans want leading their state.

A panel discussion on today’s Up With Steve Kornacki argued that the ad would only appeal to the base. While I do think it will fire up supporters, more importantly the ad does link together a months-long messaging narrative that has tremendous potential to move moderate, suburban women.

The Davis campaign has put extensive resources into informing and persuading voters. This ad ties together all of those attacks and really forces voters to decide what’s more important in choosing our next governor: their party affiliation, or their character?

Furthermore, as Harvey Kromberg pointed out in Quorum Report, the coverage of the ad — which amplifies whatever media buy her campaign makes — is actually starting to finally focus on Greg Abbott’s actual record.

Look, people may not like the ad for pointing out uncomfortable truths, but that doesn’t make Greg Abbott’s record any less scary. So if this ad bothers you, think about what four or eight years of Abbott as governor might look like. And then get out there and vote for Wendy Davis.

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About Author

Katherine Haenschen

Katherine Haenschen is a PhD candidate at the University of Texas, where she studies political participation on digital media. She previously managed successful candidate, issue, voter registration, and GOTV campaigns in Central Texas. She is also a fan of UCONN women's basketball and breakfast tacos.

5 Comments

  1. Horse feathers! This add is an example of what is wring with the Davis Campaign. I’m surprised it did not, in shocking tones, also say Greg Abboitt eats small puppies! I’d rather know what a Davis administration would do, rather than scare mongering. Davis’ only claim to fame was the filibuster she did to get name recognition. But this add is in poor taste.

  2. Greg Abbott is a pretty despicable human being. That said, the Davis campaign’s appropriation of the wheelchair, the worldwide symbol of handicapped access, is equally deplorable. Greg Abbott’s record of supporting disability rights beyond his own personal narrative is pretty disgusting too. That doesn’t change Wendy Davis’ campaign ad which took an incredibly paternalistic viewpoint in suggesting that Abbott’s disability required he advocate for all disabled people despite any legal standing to counter-arguments. Is it possible that Greg Abbott saw himself as an officer of the court first rather than a disabled person? Isn’t this the kind of behavior we the people should expect of any officer of the court also personally engaged in identity politics? To blame Abbott for an application of the law which was not overturned on appeal is some of the worst conflating of a social and legal definition of “disability” possible.

    Greg Abbott is pretty much one of the lowest forms of political creature possible- a hypocrite. Wendy Davis is equally steeped in her hypocrisy in failing to realize the Ableism she utilizes for political points is at the base of sexism, racism, and many of the other struggles related to identify politics. The Ableist thought that the Davis campaign used for political gain speaks not only to the issues within the Davis campaign, but also speaks volumes to the underlying social assumptions made about disabled bodies and the behaviors that say it is ok to try to gain an advantage at the expense of a disabled body.

    Why is Greg Abbott being attacked for not fitting Wendy Davis’ normative ideal of what a disabled person should be? When did self-identified White Feminists become the spokespeople for all marginalized people? Why does Wendy Davis get to use a worldwide symbol of disability to publicly shame a political opponent?

    Wendy- conflating Pink Running shoes as some sort of moving the ball forward does nothing when you go and move that ball back 15 yards on an “Unsportsman-like Conduct” which really hurts your disabled teammates who would have otherwise done everything they could for a team win. Doubly so in defeating Greg Abbott.

  3. You know, Abbott’s response to a disabled person is exactly what Wendy’s ad was talking about. Hypocrisy.   My handicap is important – yours is not.  While he was in  San Antonio, Abbott made the comment, “If she choose to attack a man in a wheelchair that is her prerogative” but now he is “attacking a disable man”.  When Abbott used his handicap in his campaign ads, he is noble, but when a disabled man get on stage with Wendy, he is a “prop”.  Abbott is really demonstrating how supportive he is of other handicapped people, isn’t he (sarcasm). Oh and by the way, the young man, Lamar White, requested to be moved on that stage because he was afraid he would fall in front of the cameras.  Plus, he had to contacted Greg Abbott to make it clear that ‘HE IS NOT A PROP’ and demand Abbott apologize to him.  So instead of Abbott fighting back with Wendy Davis, he “chose” to fight with her disabled supporter?  Is this the leadership skills he will have if elected Governor?

    http://www.forwardprogressives.com/disabled-wendy-davis-supporter-fires-back-greg-abbott-campaign-calling-disabled-speakers-props/

  4. Not to mention that Abbot is against the Medicaid expansion offered under the ACA that would help many disabled Texans increase their quality of life. Personally, I loved the ’empty wheelchair’ and thought it was completely spot on.

  5. The media loves to amplify right wing faux outrage. That faux outrage is typically an effort to put Dems on the defensive and limit them to less hard hitting messages. I say hit the GOP hard and fight it out on the comment boards and Twitter. The faux outrage falls apart under a good solid hammering of the facts.

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