On stage at the Texas Republican Convention Friday in Fort Worth, the spotlight was on Greg Abbott, who left little doubt his campaign for governor against Democrat Wendy Davis will be a slug fest.
Before an audience of sign-waving conservatives, Abbott promised the kind of fight loyal Republicans want from their top-of-the-ticket nominee, pinning a scarlet letter of sorts on Davis as he branded her with a capital “L” -- for liberal.
“Liberal elites from the East Coast to the West Coast have fawned over and financed my opponent to try to remake Texas in their image,” Abbott told the estimated 5,000 delegates in the auditorium.
During a speech that ended with a flourish, with confetti dropping from the rafters, Abbott claimed Davis would restrict gun rights and has supported the Environmental Protection Agency he’s sued many times as Texas attorney general.
He put his own spin on the abortion filibuster that rocketed Davis to national fame. Davis has said she was fighting for women’s access to healthcare. Abbott framed it differently.
“She stood for 13 hours to advocate abortion – even after five months. Of all things, she then said she was pro-life," Abbott said.
After attempting to shred Davis, Abbott then turned to his blueprint for governing Texas.
He didn’t say how, but he promised to reduce property taxes, build roads without taxes fees or tolls, and make education the “cornerstone” of his administration by giving local districts more control.
“My plan returns genuine local control to schools by allowing schools to opt out of mandates from Austin,” he said, suggesting he also wants to put less emphasis on standardized tests.
Abbott gave a nod to the all-important Hispanic vote as he talked about the need to unify cultures in Texas. He said his wife, whose mother is from Mexico, would be the first Hispanic first lady of Texas if he’s elected.
A small manufacturer from Kingwood and his wife, a school librarian, lined up for photos with Abbott after his speech. Jean Faris said she likes Abbott's support for teachers. Gus Faris, who makes heating and air conditioning equipment, said he liked Abbott’s call for local education control.
“Moving the education responsibilities to local, not only out of Washington, but out of Austin as well,” he said.
The light shining on Abbott will grow harsher in three weeks when Davis headlines the Texas Democratic Party Convention in Dallas. She’ll get her chance to skewer Abbott as she tries to energize her supporters.
Photo courtesy of Fort Worth Star-Telegram