Gammage Stumps Austin for Dem GUV Nomination

Gubernatorial hopeful fends off attacks from fellow donkey Bell

Bob Gammage (l) and Chris Bell faced off over past votes 
and priorities.
Bob Gammage (l) and Chris Bell faced off over past votes and priorities.

Still riding the high of a four-day stump across Texas, gubernatorial candidate Bob Gammage arrived in Austin last Friday eager to share his Democratic campaign platform with a roomful of reporters. The former U.S. rep. from Houston wasted no time pummeling Gov. Rick Perry for being weak-kneed on the state's most critical issues, ranging from education to healthcare to taxes. And he accused Perry of perpetuating a "corrupt political machine which stretches from Washington, D.C., all the way to Austin," with money flowing in each direction.

Thirty minutes into the press conference, however, Gammage was forced to defend his own record in response to charges from Democratic opponent Chris Bell concerning his votes on abortion. Specifically, Bell and a dozen prominent pro-choice women took issue with a series of congressional votes in which Gammage opposed federally funded abortions for low-income women. Gammage said he regretted those votes, cast over a span of time during the late Seventies, and he reiterated his favorable stance on abortion rights. "I was pro-choice before women had a choice," he said, adding that his votes were reflective of the tenor of the times, just a few years after the Supreme Court's landmark Roe v. Wade ruling. Back then, Gammage said, it wasn't a question of a woman's right to choose, but rather a question of who should pay for the abortion. "Today," he added, "I wouldn't vote that way."

Gammage said he'd prefer that Bell and other Democrats focus their criticism on Perry. "I think it's sad," he said, "that Chris thinks it's necessary to attack another Democrat." Bell replies that Gammage is fair game. "You can't try to stand on your record and then simply run from your record when it isn't convenient," he said. "I plan on facing Rick Perry in the fall, but first I have to get through the primary. So I think it's important for voters to understand the distinct differences between me and my opponent."

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Bob GammageTexas politics, Bob Gammage, Chris Bell, Rick Perry, Felix Alvarado, Rashad Jafer, Kinky Friedman, Carole Keeton Strayhorn

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