Abbott, Davis officially file for governor

DAVE MONTGOMERY Austin Bureau AUSTIN – Airing their contrasting visions for Texas – including their polar-opposite stands on a new abortion law – Republican Attorney Gen. Greg Abbott and Democratic State Sen. Wendy Davis declared themselves officially in the race for governor on Saturday by filing for office in their respective primaries. Although both candidates ceremonially announced their entry into the race weeks earlier – Davis in early October and Abbott in mid-July – their signatures on the filing papers, accompanied by a $3,750 fee for each candidate , constituted their formal entry into what has already become a bruising battle in next year’s race to succeed outgoing Republican Gov. Rick Perry, who is not seeking another term. Saturday marked the start of the month-long filing period for the March 4, 2014, Democratic and Republican primaries. Statewide candidates and legislators representing multi-county districts are required to file at party headquarters in Austin while candidates for county offices and for legislative offices contained in a single county file in their respective counties. Hundreds of incumbents and first-time political aspirants will ink the required paperwork before filing ends on Dec. 9. Typically, the filing period often yields its share of surprises as previously unannounced candidates jump into contests, sometimes at the last minute. Other candidates among the first to file were State Sens. Ken Paxton, R-McKinney, who is running for attorney general, and Brian Birdwell, R-Granbury, who is seeking re-election. The North Texas lawmakers showed up at Texas Republican Party Headquarters early Saturday to submit their filing papers. The state’s two headliner candidates for governor both used the filing requirements to stage rallies that drew throngs of supporters and were reminiscent of the earlier events in which they originally announced their candidacy. “It’s time for a governor who believes you don’t have to buy a place in Texas’ future,” Davis declared as she called for new direction from years of Republican policies that she has said would be continued under an Abbott administration. “Insider deals, special interest tax breaks, favors for political cronies – that’s not how we ought to be doing business in Texas.” Abbott promised to stand for Texans who “are fed up with Barack Obama and his big government operations” and vowed to crush Democratic efforts to convert Texas from Republican red to Democratic blue. “What I can tell you is that Texas is not ready to go down the pathway of this ultra-Washington, D.C., California-style liberalism that Wendy Davis represents,” said Abbott. The two candidates, responding to questions from reporters, also reiterated their opposing stands on a new abortion law that Davis unsuccessfully sought to block with a filibuster in the state Senate and that Abbott is now defending in court. More than 30 abortion-rights demonstrators, including at least two wearing Wendy Davis T-shirts, gathered outside Republican headquarters to protest Abbott’s defense of the law, at one point chanting, “Hey, Ho, Greg Abbott has got to go.” One sign declared, “Keep Greg Abbott out of women’s health.”

Often referred to as HB2, the law requires doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges in hospitals within 30 miles of their clinics, a provision that Planned Parenthood and allied groups charged in a lawsuit is forcing more than a third of the state’s abortion clinics to either close down or stop performing abortions. U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel of Austin, siding with Planned Parenthood, ruled on Oct. 28 that the provision poses an unconstitutional burden on women’s access to abortions, but a panel of appeals court judges blocked the decision and allowed the provision to go into effect. Planned Parenthood lawyers have turned to the Supreme Court in an attempt to preserve Yeakel’s ruling. Davis, whose June filibuster rocketed her to national political stardom, rejected a reporter’s suggestion that she is “running away” from abortion by de-emphasizing the issue on the campaign trail. “I’ll never run away from making sure that women are safe. I’ll never run away from working to make sure that we have adequate health care, adequate choices and protections of very private decision-making of women,” she declared. ” I will never back away from the position that I hold.” Abbott, whose staff attorneys defended the law during the recent three-day non-jury trial before Yeakel, stressed that he is also focused on women’s safety in defending a statute that he said was designed to protect women from unsafe abortion practices. “The goal in passing the law that I’m defending in court now is to ensure that we do all we possibly can to protect the health and safety of women in this state,” Abbott asserted. “ We’ve seen tragically women who have gone to clinics in some other place an d even in the state of Texas who are harmed by these procedures. Abbott said he is “not a supporter” of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme court decision that legalized abortion in 1973, but he did not directly respond to a question on whether he would support the law’s repeal. Abbott greeted more than 300 volunteers at the Republican headquarters building early Saturday morning before joining his supporters in a door-knocking campaign across Austin in an attempt to corral more votes. Returning more than an hour later, the volunteers cheered as Abbott signed the filing document and proclaimed himself as an official candidate for governor. Abbott said his volunteers knocked on more than 6,000 doors and that many Austin voters enthusiastically embraced his candidacy, urging him to continue “fighting against the Obama administration.” “There’s nothing like someone opening up a door, finding a guy in a wheelchair asking them for their vote and there is no way they can say no,” joked Abbott, who has used a wheelchair for nearly three decades after being partially paralyzed in 1984 when he was struck by a tree while jogging. While Abbott and his Republican supporters were door-knocking, Davis appeared before well over 100 supporters at uShip Inc., an Austin-based global online shipping company, to affix her signature to filing documents that were then taken to Democratic headquarters across town. “Thanks to you, we have launched a grassroots campaign and we have come out roaring,” said Davis, who now represents Senate District 10 in Tarrant County. “Today is the official start of that journey…Together, there is no fight that we can’t take on and win.”