The desperation of the Wendy Davis campaign for governor has long been a subject of light derision thanks to the many fumbles of the state senator’s team. But the most recent thoughtless act born out of desperation is absolutely disgusting. With less than three months until the general election, the Davis campaign has finally released an ad reminiscent of one aired by the Ann Richards campaign, which referenced an insensitive remark made by Richards’ opponent Clayton Williams about rape during the 1990 gubernatorial race. The Richards ad was highly effective and largely responsible for her victory. But Wendy Davis is no Ann Richards, and the extremely disturbing ad has made me lose any modicum of respect for the gubernatorial candidate.
The Davis ad, which leaves very little to the imagination, references an instance in which a woman was sexually assaulted by a Kirby vacuum salesman whom she had let into her home for a demonstration. She sued Kirby Vacuums because there was no background check conducted on the salesman, who was on probation for a sex crime. At the time, current Attorney General Greg Abbott, who is also Davis’ opponent, was an associate justice on the Texas Supreme Court. When the case reached the high court, Abbott wrote a dissenting opinion because, according to him, the manufacturer was not responsible for the local distributor’s hiring process; the local distributor employed the vacuum salesman. The highly dramatized ad along with torrential winds, shows the salesman entering the home, the woman’s children sleeping, a door shutting and the salesman leaving the house.
In an effort to portray Abbott as someone who will relentlessly side with corporations even in the horrific case of sexual assault, the incompetency of the Davis campaign has yet again come to light by exploiting what I am sure is a painful memory for the victim. Additionally, it’s hard to believe that Abbott, who has spoken out against human trafficking and obscene photography, has the same nonchalant attitude toward rape as Clayton Williams. The ad does not show a candidate who fights for women and against sexual assault; all I see is a desperate campaign that would rather go deep down in the gutter than accept a likely defeat.
Davis is an associate editor.
Correction: An earlier version of this blog post stated the victim was not contacted. The victim was not spoken to directly by the campaign, but by representatives from a Democratic group that supports the Davis campaign. According to Davis, the victim was told by the group that the issue could possibly arise during the gubernatorial race. Representatives from the Davis campaign did not speak with the victim directly before airing the commercial, however.