Gov. Greg Abbott is starting his 30th year of a perpetually charmed political career.
He remains as calm as any former civil court judge. Meanwhile, his Republican challengers are kicking up a fuss or self-destructing.
Democrats? They haven’t won anything in Texas since 1994. Plus, elections in the middle of a president’s term rarely favor the party in the White House.
Right now, everything points to Abbott sailing into a third term as governor.
So why is a wealthy PAC of former Republicans running a TV ad criticizing Abbott?
The Lincoln Project PAC was set to air an ad Saturday night blaming Abbott for Texas’ 60,000-plus COVID-19 deaths, saying that’s enough to fill “a cemetery that would stretch from Austin to San Antonio” with “enough lumber to build a wall 85 miles long.”
Rick Wilson, the Florida campaign strategist who co-leads the PAC, said through a spokesperson: “After letting Texans freeze in the dark, failing to lead on COVID, cheerleading a racially motivated voter suppression bill, and enraging millions of Texas women in both political parties, [Abbott’s] being held to account.”
The Lincoln Project cranked up in 2019 to oppose then-President Donald Trump. Now, it targets anyone for what co-founder Reed Galen described as extreme “Trumpist behavior.”
The 60-second TV ad during the Texas Longhorns-Rice Owls football game shows a counter with the numbers of COVID-19 cases and deaths in Texas, enough to require “over 3.6 million feet of casket lumber.”
The tagline: “If Governor Abbott wants to build a new wall” at weak points along the Mexico border, “tell him to stop building this one,” showing a long row of caskets lined up on end.
It’s not a convincing ad.
We see the numbers every day. Measuring the loss of 60,000 loved ones in terms of “casket lumber” seems macabre.
Galen commented through a spokesperson: “Greg Abbott is what happens when someone is consumed by their own ambition. ... He’s a coward: not afraid of what his dereliction of duty will do to Texans but scared of his primary opponents.”
Earlier in the week, the project posted a 30-second video criticizing Texas’ new abortion law with crowdsourced citizen enforcement through a $10,000 civil court penalty.
The ad asked: “Why not put a bounty on rapists? Or do you just want a bounty on women?”
Abbott campaign spokesman Mark Miner replied sharply to the newest ad.
““I’m not going to respond to a bunch of has-beens and out of work political hacks who sit in their basement all day doing videos nobody cares about and watching reruns of ‘Seinfeld,’ “ Miner told The Dallas Morning News.
In Fort Worth Friday to approve $2 billion for border security and drug enforcement, Abbott remained focused on the only opponent Texas Republicans are running against: President Joe Biden.
Biden’s border policies “opened the floodgates” to crime and Fentanyl trafficking, Abbott said, although he carefully avoided the more xenophobic tone of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s comment Thursday accusing Democrats of using immigration to “take over our country.”
Abbott and 12 Republican state lawmakers mingled with police labor leaders in a crowded reception room at the Fort Worth Police Officers Association headquarters.
Abbott took one reporter’s question about COVID-19.
“In areas where people are vaccinated or where they have an acquired immunity, their probability of getting COVID is slim to none,” he said.
What’s happening, Abbott said, is “the delta variant quickly burning through a population and then fading away.”
Afterward, state Rep. Craig Goldman, R-Fort Worth, wrote in a message that Abbott “has led this state through a hurricane, a winter storm and a pandemic, all of which we have never experienced.”
Texas is “the envy of the nation because of his consistent, reliable leadership,” Goldman wrote.
State Rep. Giovanni Capriglione, R-Southlake, replied by message that Abbott has led in “a tumultuous time,” listing a “worldwide pandemic, whipsaw financial conditions and a major shift in the federal administration.”
“Anyone in that position is expected to face criticism,” Capriglione wrote. “Simply, Governor Abbott will easily be re-elected.”
Calling him “Trumpist” doesn’t hurt him in Texas.