Saturday, February 24, 2018

With latest attack ad, Abbott builds on six-figure push to unseat GOP state Rep. Sarah Davis

By Patrick Svitek
Feb. 7, 2018 at 11:48 p.m.

Gov. Greg Abbott is sparing no expense — or attack — as he works to unseat a fellow Republican, state Rep. Sarah Davis of West University Place.

After spending six figures in January on ads for her primary challenger, Susanna Dokupil, Abbott is launching a third TV ad in the district, one that solely criticizes Davis without mentioning Dokupil — and doubles down on a line of attack that Davis already has called the "most disingenuous" one she's ever seen.

"She twists and turns to hide how liberal she really is," a narrator says in the 30-second spot, which features images of Davis on a spinning coin. "Sarah Davis: not just a liberal — a liberal you can't trust."

While the ad attacks Davis over abortion and ethics reform, it most notably revives Abbott's contention that a bill introduced by Davis during last summer's special session would have interfered with the state's ability to respond to Hurricane Harvey had it passed. As introduced, House Bill 25 would have tapped the state's multibillion-dollar savings account, known as the rainy day fund, to partially reverse a 2015 cut to disabled children's therapy services. The bill was later amended to draw its funding from the state's Disaster Relief Fund, which the governor's office has since used to distribute more than $100 million for Harvey-related issues.

Davis opposed the amendment, which was offered by Fort Worth state Rep. Matt Krause, a Republican and member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus. Speaking against the amendment on the floor, Davis expressed discomfort with tapping the disaster fund for such a large amount, especially due to her Houston district's vulnerability to natural disasters.

The ad skips over the procedural history of the bill and seeks to make Davis responsible for the final version of the bill, which unanimously passed the House before dying in the Senate.

Davis "wants to protect the disaster relief funding that Houston desperately needs," the narrator says. "But her own bill would have taken that money away."

Abbott first used this line of attack while speaking at a fundraiser for Dokupil last month. After his remarks surfaced, Davis called it "the most disingenuous attack – that's using the tragedy of Hurricane Harvey to score political points – that I have seen."



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