After voting early Tuesday in Austin, Gov. Greg Abbott continued campaigning for the opponent of Sarah Davis — a four-term Republican state representative from Houston Abbott says “is clearly the farthest to the left state representative in the state of Texas.”
Abbott repeated a theme he laid out in November when he endorsed Susanna Dokupil, a Houston businesswoman who served as assistant solicitor general under Atty. Gen. Abbott.
The governor has since spent more than $150,000 on television ads in support of Dokupil, fixing Davis as the bullseye in a move by more conservative Republicans to purge moderates who, like Davis have been “absolutely hostile” to his conservative agenda, as he told the Houston Chronicle today.
While not named specifically, Davis was thought to be one of a “dirty dozen,” moderate Republican lawmakers considered corrupt and unrepresentative by New Leadership PAC, which offered up $100,000 bounties for their defeat at the polls this spring.
It isn’t clear what impact the hammering from Abbott and the more conservative wing will have on the Dokupil-Davis race or others identified in earlier reporting by The Texas Monitor.
Those Republicans, allies of outgoing House Speaker Joe Straus, include Dan Huberty, R-Kingwood; Charlie Geren, R-Fort Worth; Travis Clardy, R-Nacogdoches; J.D. Sheffield, R-Gatesville; Giovanni Capriglione, R-Keller; Ken King, R-Canadian; Ernest Bailes, R-Shepherd; Wayne Faircloth, R-Galveston; Chris Paddie, R-Marshall; Sarah Davis, R-West University Place; Lyle Larson, R-San Antonio; Drew Darby, R-San Angelo; Linda Koop, R-Richardson; and Jason Villalba, R-Dallas.
But Abbott has saved much of the vitriol for Davis, and told reporters at his voting place that she has worked “antagonistically” against a more conservative agenda for Texas.
When asked about the race, Abbott told a Texas Tribune reporter who tweeted, “Sarah Davis really has been acting like a Democrat. What she really should do is just come out and admit she is a Democrat — and run as a Democrat.” When the reporter asked if he was concerned if a Dokupil primary win would hand District 134 over to the Democrats, Abbott said, “Listen, the district is blue already.”
Abbott was expected to join Dokupil later today to speak at a rally in Bellaire and Wednesday in Galveston.
Jon Taylor, a specialist in Texas politics and chair of the Political Science Department at the University of St. Thomas in Houston, said today he thinks the makeup of District 134 is more amenable to a candidate like Davis.
“The Governor is welcome to prove me wrong, but it appears that he thinks that Davis’ district is already lost,”Taylor said. “It’s winnable for a Republican like Davis. It’s not for someone more to Abbott’s liking.”
The feuding began in earnest with the endorsements of Davis and several others suspected of making the Dirty Dozen list by the Texas House Republican Caucus.
“Sarah Davis,” the Caucus said in blurb on its Twitter account, “has served Texas taxpayers as a member of the budget writing committee. She has fought to ensure our state’s budget is the model of fiscal responsibility while holding the line on spending increases and cutting your taxes.”
Which prompted this tweet from Dave Carney, an Abbott campaign consultant and president of Norway Hill Associates, Inc., a public relations and communications firm based in New Hampshire:
“Wow! TX dems endorsing @SarahforHD134 for re-election. Should help in primary….early voting starts Tuesday!”
Carney later came back and cheekily tweeted, “Sorry i must of had a brain freeze. I retweeted some bad info. Apologies to the TX house democrats.”
Taylor questioned the wisdom of Abbott’s hard-line position, particularly on Davis.
“If Abbott is not careful, this political jihad against his perceived ‘enemies’ within the Texas GOP — and his violation of Reagan’s ’11th Commandment’ — may create an unintended legacy: that he will be the last Republican Governor of Texas for the foreseeable future, hasten a rapid decline in Republican control of statewide elected offices, the Legislature, the courts, and local government. It has happened before. It can happen again.”
Mark Lisheron can be reached at [email protected]