Texas Tussle: Rick Perry Jabs Wendy Davis After Abortion Filibuster

War of words could foreshadow race for governor

  • Share
  • Read Later
Tony Gutierrez / AP

Governor Rick Perry addresses a large audience in attendance at the National Right To Life Convention, Thursday, June 27, 2013, in Grapevine, Texas.

It has been a generation since the earth moved for Democrats in Texas. On Tuesday night an abortion bill, one of the most restrictive in the nation, went down amid parliamentary maneuvering in the state senate, sparking euphoria in Democratic circles and making a minor celebrity of its chief opponent. But in the clear light of day, with the politicians, protesters and pundits now two days removed, there was little evidence that a tectonic shift in red-blue state politics had taken place.

True, a Democratic star had been born—State Senator Wendy Davis led a 10-hour filibuster in pink sneakers—and her party got a much-needed morale boost. But Republican Governor Rick Perry remained at the top of the political heap, undamaged by his party’s late-night meltdown. On Wednesday he called for a second special legislative session to begin Monday, where the bill will almost certainly become law, and a day later took a shot at Davis’ background as a teenaged mother while addressing a right to life convention.

Abortion is among the most divisive issues in American politics. It has the power to rally the grassroots, inspire explosive rhetoric, boost candidacies and raise money for both parties. As Austin Republican consultant and lobbyist Bill Miller noted after the fight, abortion is “political business, not a political issue.” Thus, this week in Texas, Davis, hit pay dirt, while Republican Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, who presided over the debate, went bust. The state’s number two Republican, Dewhurst may become the only major political casualty of Tuesday’s frenzy.

(MOREMeet the Woman Behind the Texas Abortion Filibuster)

The filibustering Davis, a 50-year-old Ft. Worth lawyer, did a “remarkable job,” Miller said, energizing her party ahead of the 2014 midterms and guaranteeing that she will be a fundraising draw. Cast in the national spotlight, she was not coy about her own ambitions. “I would be lying if I told you that I hadn’t had aspirations to run for a statewide office,” Davis told MSNBC’s Chris Hayes when asked if she would run for governor. Dewhurst, on the other hand, faced internal party criticism for failing to control events as president of the senate, energizing his opponents on the right flank of his party.

Dewhurst had pressed Perry to add the abortion bill to the agenda for the 30-day special session that ended Tuesday at midnight, a move interpreted by some as a way to reinforce his conservative credentials that had come into question in his failed 2012 U.S. Senate bid. A week ago, Dewhurst had warned the Texas House — both houses are dominated by Republicans — that it was moving too slowly on the abortion bill.  The senate already had passed the bill, but the more conservative house added further restrictions, requiring a concurring vote from the senate. Sensing the shortening timeframe, Davis seized the opportunity.

Meanwhile, 20 years of ossified incumbency in the higher ranks of the Republican party brought the threat of fratricide. GOP Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, who has designs on the lieutenant governor’s slot in 2014, said Wednesday it was time for Dewhurst, a champion horse rider, to go: “I strongly believe he has lost his grip on the reins of the Senate and his horse has run wild. He needs to either dismount or be thrown from the saddle.”

Both the left and right have been energized by this week’s dramatic events. State Senator Dan Patrick, a conservative Republican and a second Dewhurst challenger, is promising to look into ways to admonish House members who appeared to walk onto the Senate floor and urge the crowd to keep up the noise. Davis, meanwhile, is appearing on national news segments in her pink filibuster shoes – which have attracted a following of their own.

Perry stayed above the fray Wednesday, eschewing microphones for a written statement calling for a second 30-day session with three items on the agenda: the abortion legislation, a transportation measure and a provision that would allow Texas juries to give 17-year-olds found guilty of murder a life sentence. But he waded back in with a flourish on Thursday.

(MOREIn Texas Filibuster, YouTube Stands Up While “24/7″ News Falls)

Speaking to a receptive crowd at the National Right to Life convention in Dallas, Perry used Davis’ personal history as a teenaged single mother who went on to graduate from college and then Harvard Law School to criticize her pro-choice stance.

“It’s just unfortunate that she hasn’t learned from her own example that every life must be given a chance to realize its full potential and that every life matters,” Perry told the crowd. Davis responded in an email to the Associated Press: “Rick Perry’s statement is without dignity and tarnishes the high office he holds.”

That exchange could be a preview of next year’s governor’s race. Speculation about Perry’s future is rampant in Austin, with many insiders believing he will make another run for the White House instead of seeking re-election. He had promised to make an announcement around July 1, but said Thursday the special session would push back that date. If Perry does run, he will have no problem raising millions of dollars toward it. Should he opt not to, Attorney General Greg Abbott is waiting in the GOP wings and already has $18 million on hand.

If Davis does run for governor, she’ll face challenges beyond fundraising. Although 2008 presidential exit polls showed that women comprised 53% of the vote in Texas, they broke for John McCain 52%-47%. Texas is also a solid-red state on the issue of abortion. A University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll released on June 20 found 62% said they would support “prohibiting abortions after 20 weeks based on the argument that a fetus can feel pain at that point,” a provision contained in the bill Davis fought to defeat. However her name recognition has likely risen since a UT/Texas Tribune poll found earlier this year that she was unknown to 58% of respondents.

But Davis’ future is uncertain. This spring she was one of 15 senators who drew a short straw in the redistricting process, forcing her to face reelection in 2014, only two years into her current term. Perry actually boosted Davis’ re-election chances Wednesday when he signed into law a new legislative map drawn during the special session. Perry was encouraged by some in his party, in light of this week’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the Voting Rights Act, to revive old maps drawn in 2011 that were considered much more Republican-friendly. He chose the new maps, which make Davis’ re-election more likely.

24 comments
chaliapin
chaliapin

It is not the job of government to legislate morality, but to determine legality.  If it were possible to legislate morality, everyone would have been perfectly moral after Moses gave the Israelites the Ten Commandments or after the "Code of Hammurabi" was "published."  Many of these comments confuse morality and ethics and legality.  These are all different ideas.  Personally, I would support anyone who was faced with a decision of this level, whatever they decided.  That does not mean that I would not try to persuade them into a good moral choice, but I would try to help them when they made their choice to suffer as few evil consequences as possible.  To make a blanket legal rule to cover every possible choice is impossible.  We do the best we can, and then aid those caught up in the legal tangles that follow.  This seems very vague, but we should follow the greatest law of all:- the Law of Love!

SJH0627
SJH0627

i think, if the conditions are right and the choice of both the mother and father, abortions are acceptable. but after 20 weeks (5 months) of carrying a fetus how can a woman not know if she wants a baby or not?! abortions after 20 weeks should be banned, period. unless there is a direct medical affliction to the mother, why should abortions after 20 weeks be allowed? they shouldn't

DaneMuhlig
DaneMuhlig

This lady runs for Satan and speaks for Satan. Abortion is an abomination!! Abortion is dead wrong!! 
People want kill a baby in the womb and STOP A BABY'S
LITTLE HEART BEAT! THAT'S MURDEROUS!! THAT'S
MURDEROUS!! THAT'S MURDER in the WOMB!!
God will judge these people SEVERELY!!

Abortion is not "the right to choose." A woman DOES NOT
have the right commit MURDER of the womb...not before
the eyes of the living God!! Abortion is not "Pro Choice"...it is
PRO DEATH to the small, little child in the womb!! When you
stop a heartbeat you have killed!! [it only takes around 22 days
for the baby's heart to start beating after conception]. It is not
a lifeless "Fetus" material...it is a dear, precious, valuable baby!

Norm54
Norm54

The governator is just protecting his supply of future inmates he can execute.

notLostInSpace
notLostInSpace

Like their opposition to gay marriage, the Republicans really want to BE in your business (contrary to what they say, the grand flip floppers they are).  Rick might not be through with this, but he is gonna be through as far as a national election post, the more he pushes this agenda. 

Think_again
Think_again

If Perry goes for a second run for president, it would reverse the old Shakespearean adage: it would be "First time farce, second time tragedy" the tragedy of a man repeatedly reaching for something clearly out of his depth. 

And we would once again be forced to watch the Kabuki dance of delusion in the primaries as he briefly blazes and then is snuffed by his own misguided hubris —and shortcomings in his abilities to retain bullet points in his brain while swaggering with the ones stuffed under his belt.

KountyKobbler
KountyKobbler

Rick is trying to preempt the first gift God gave Mankind in the Garden of Eden.. " The right to choose   good or evil" Texas Gov.'s plan of forced compliance is contrary to the Eternal plan for Mankind   the privileged of choice  by codifying a choice  and limiting access to choices  it would be like putting  a governor on all transportation equipment  that automates  speed limits for roads and cuts off power beyond  the legal speed limit.. no one could break the law by choice   not even the police  that are trying  to catch people that broke some other law.  By making mans law exceed Gods law  proves hes is not a man for higher office.

chaliapin
chaliapin

Which is worse: Kill a child before it develops to birth, or kill the child with sickness and starvation after birth?  This is the problem that we face in deciding about abortion.  The media, particularly that portion trying to sell something for profit, encourages indulgent sexual relations, and then when the result that could be forseen happens, we shrug our shoulders and say, "What can you expect from such terrible people?"  I, personally do not condone abortion, but neither do I condone a "fend for yourself" attitude for people caught up in this situation.  I have personally witnessed the agony the woman faces then and I empathize with their dilemma.  Political solutions are not an answer that I can accept.  Despite my reservations, I will support the woman who decides on an abortion.  But only when "We the People" resolve to aid our suffering fellow humans will we be able to take steps toward a better future for all mankind.

swcowan3
swcowan3

Perry attacks Davis for having a child as a single woman?  How insincere is that???  He should praise her for having the child, not attack her for NOT having an abortion!  But then again, he has never been known for his consistency or intelligence.

wineguy999
wineguy999

I just wish Governor Hair-do would come out of the closet.

bojimbo26
bojimbo26

Republicans wishing to rule womens bodies .

PsyloGetti
PsyloGetti

Rick Perry has been ambivalent about running again for governor of Texas.  He has not started fund raising at a point when it is normal to do so.  Is this his final middle finger to his constituents? The women and the poor people, I mean.  

Or is he readying for another Presidential run?  God, Buddha, Mohamed, or whoever help us all.

SarahConfran
SarahConfran

Dewhurst changed the time stamps for the original vote. Isn't that illegal? If so can the first order of business of the session be impeachment? It would never go through but would eat up a lot of time.

Think_again
Think_again

There are severe and financially devastating birth defects and conditions that cannot easily be detected before that time.

chaliapin
chaliapin

@DaneMuhlig  "Judge not, that ye be not judged!"  Have you committed murder in this way?  Do not speak for others until you have travelled a mile in their moccasins.

Destroyed
Destroyed

Can't survive outside the womb? Then it's not a person yet.

Think_again
Think_again

What are you willing to do to support and educate the baby when the mother can't? Because without that, many of those precious lives will end up on Rick Perry's Death Row after a miserable and violent life of want and neglect. Who will God judge severely then?

Destroyed
Destroyed

The world is over populated we should kill the child no matter what.

Deported
Deported

Your entire statement is classic liberalism. In the first sentence, you offer this ridiculous and completely baseless scenario of "...death by sickness and starvation" as if this is a country in the southern Sahara desert instead of the wealthiest nation on earth. You don't condone a "fend for yourself attitude" because that requires self reliance and accountability and those are the enmy of the liberal mind. There are ridiculously easy contraception methods to avoid pregnancy that even the most premiscuous, uneducated and downright stupid people can acquire for "free". If they can't handle one of those, they shouldn't be having sex. Spare me the 1 in 100 million odds of rape and incest abortions. No one is going to argue that those are wrong.

Deported
Deported

Your entire statement is classic liberalism. In the first sentence, you offer this ridiculous and completely baseless scenario of "...death by sickness and starvation" as if this is a country in the southern Sahara desert instead of the wealthiest nation on earth. You don't condone a "fend for yourself attitude" because that requires self reliance and accountability and those are the enmy of the liberal mind.

There are ridiculously easy contraception methods to avoid pregnancy that even the most premiscuous, uneducated and downright stupid people can acquire for "free". If they can't handle one of those, they shouldn't be having sex. Spare me the 1 in 100 million odds of rape and incest abortions. No one is going to argue that those are wrong.

Rachel421
Rachel421

@swcowan3 That was the exact point I was about to make.  

His statement about Davis clearly indicates that he is not "pro-life".  (The blood-lust of the Texas GOP, which has had no qualms executing those who were most certainly innocent, as well as the willingness to lie us into a war, shows any intelligent person that there is absolutely nothing "pro-life" about them. )  

Rather, this is all about their fundamental hatred of female sexuality.  In their eyes, Wendy Davis having sex was the ultimate evil.  They care not one iota that she chose to have and keep her child and was still able to better herself and her family after doing so.  Boys can be forgiven for their indiscretions,  whereas girls have some inherent evil which dates back to Eve.  Then they make all the fuss about "family values" by quoting from men who had hundreds of wives and concubines.   

Why any woman would still vote Republican is among the All Time Greatest Mysteries of Life.  




bwweinstein
bwweinstein

@swcowan3 Hey, this is the guy who can't remember the 3 departments he wants to eliminate.  Go Texas! 

chaliapin
chaliapin

@Deported Thank you for your comments!  I should like to point out that this is the wealthiest nation on earth, but we still have poverty.  I personally know of children who do not have underwear to wear to school because that would take away some of the food their family eats.  As for contraceptives... I know of cases where they did not work.  Also, we apparently have different ideas of "free."  My definition of free means that there is no cost whatsoever.  Also, I would like to know the source of your "1 in 100 million odds".  And finally, I am a liberal in the early Christian way described in the book of the Acts of the Apostles in the Bible, but I find that my leaning is also according to classic Jewish and Muslim teaching.  Please explain in what way that is so wrong!  Once again, thank you for your comments.  I always enjoy learning how other people think.  It helps me clarify my own not-so-lucid ideas.