Special Edition: State Ticker

Election tidbits

Special Edition: State Ticker

As early voting kicks off, both hilarity and outrage are in great supply. We'll be collecting our favorite examples periodically. Here are a few for now:

As election season rioting of boasts, promises, and accusations slips inevitably toward election day, there are headlines that a candidate like Attorney General Greg Abbott will likely be clipping for posterity. Others, not so much. Take Monday's spit-your-coffee offering from the Texas Observer, “Greg Abbott: Dildos? Against 'Em. Interracial Marriage? No Comment.” Yeah. Not likely to find its way into a faux-weathered frame at his desired Governor's Mansion address. The interview that inspired this and many other less inventive headlines spun out of questions posed by Peggy Fikac, the Express-News' Austin Bureau Chief. Would Abbott, given his protracted fight to deny same-sex couples a shot at wedded bliss, have defended the state's ban on interracial marriage prior to the Supreme Court's 1967 decision to reverse this repulsive violation of fundamental human rights? Most of the outraged headlines offered from left and right reached the erroneous conclusion that Abbott dodged the question. In fact, he was pretty clear in saying that he would have done exactly that. “The job of an attorney general is to represent and defend in court the laws of their client, which is the state Legislature,” he told Fikac, “unless and until a court strikes it down.” Unless there's a sudden eruption of informed engagement on the part of the voters, that's your next Guv pledging fealty to whatever offense the Texas Legislature dishes out. According to the good folks at the Survey Research Center at the University of Houston Center for Public Policy, who quizzed nearly 800 voters over the last month, Abbott still holds a sizable advantage over challenger Wendy Davis — 47 to 32%, with 15% still undecided. (As does Dan Patrick over Leticia Van de Putte, in the Lite Guv division.)

Some have lamented Davis' suddenly infamous “wheelchair ad” as a critical 11th-hour misstep. The ad alleges that Abbott benefited from a multimillion legal settlement for the injuries that placed him in a wheelchair and then worked to make it more difficult for someone similarly injured to achieve a comparable taste of justice. Despite Abbott & Co.'s braying, the ad is generally right on target, at least according to the lawyer who walked Abbott into his multimillion-dollar settlement. (“No,” Houston attorney Don Riddle told The Dallas Morning News, contradicting Abbott's claim to the contrary, “the innocent victim today suffering a parallel situation would not be able to recover.”) But if those 15 percenters really need some new outrage to nudge them into the polling booth, the Lone Star Foundation has some teed up and ready. If you've got the stomach for it, click over to "Abbott's Boasts & Phony Awards Hide Child Support Failure." Of course, a deeply researched report like this – not to mention one with a complete lack of dildos – will have a hard time gaining news traction so late in the season, as the jangling claim-and-counter-claim election train comes screaming into the station.

Last Friday, Abbott's camp announced he would be answering questions tagged #AskAbbott as part of a "Twitter Town Hall," perhaps hoping for a more positive response than the last time he used the hashtag. No luck: RH Reality Check reporter Andrea Grimes, as well as organizers at Battleground Texas and Planned Parenthood Texas Votes, quickly seized the opportunity to inundate Abbott with the questions his opponents would like him to answer, including:


Abbott did answer some questions, and while most of his answers were general and anodyne (he hunts with a 12-gauge shotgun, in case you were wondering), it's worth noting that he reiterated his support of allowing open carry on campuses, as well as of the voter ID law. He also made some claims that would appear to be demonstrably false. When asked, "Soooooo why don't Texas accident victims deserve the same justice you received after your accident?" he responded, "They do and Texas law ensures it." Abbott's responses to questions are collected here.

Austin American-Statesman writer Ken Herman, for one, was not amused, describing the questions as "attacks and nonsense." We can't believe, though, that Herman is entirely lacking a sense of humor - his description of Grimes (using her Halloween-themed Twitter name) as "Spooky Andrea (who self-identifies as a reporter at Reproductive Health Reality Check, a Texas Observer columnist and 'ranch dip apologist')" has to be a joke, right?

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Greg Abbott, Wendy Davis

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