POLITICS: PennAve

Republicans jittery about Wendy Davis' equal pay attacks in Texas governor's race

By |
Politics,Betsy Woodruff,Texas,Campaigns,PennAve,Wendy Davis,War on Women,Gender Issues,Greg Abbott

Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis' latest spate of attacks on state Attorney General Greg Abbott has Austin Republicans a little baffled.

At issue is equal pay legislation that Gov. Rick Perry vetoed last year. Abbott says he supports equal pay but also would have vetoed the bill as it overlaps with federal legislation on the issue. Davis has criticized his stance, and those criticisms were fueled by a San Antonio Express-News report that female assistant attorneys general in Texas are paid less on average than their male counterparts.

"Act like a Texan, Greg Abbott, and answer this question for yourself: What on earth is going on in your attorney general's office?" Davis said, per the Texas Tribune.

Behind the scenes, Davis’ onslaught hasn’t proven too discomfiting to state Republicans. Some say that by pressing the issue this early in the game — more than seven months before the general election — Davis may have reduced its impact. One Republican insider says this line of attack would have done more damage to Abbott if it came up in September or October. As it stands, he says Republicans have ample time to plan rejoinders and counter Democrats’ messaging.

But that’s not to say Republicans feel the charges are unserious. One Austin Republican consultant says the campaign is highly aware of the potential for gender optics to become problematic.

“Abbott's people know they've got to do something to dispel the Democratic notion that there's some sort of war on women in Texas,” he says.

So Republicans are certainly a little jittery.

“The entire Republican Party of Texas is on high alert right now,” says another Austin consultant. “They're very concerned about Battleground Texas and Wendy Davis and the elections. They're not taking anything for granted. Every issue that comes up, it will seem like there's a panic about it.”

View article comments Leave a comment