The backlash against the new abortion ban in Texas will help Beto O’Rourke – but will it be enough?

Beto O’Rourke, seeking to become Texas’ first Democratic governor in 30 years, announced his opposition to the abortion ban almost completely uniting voters in a way he’s never seen in his life.

Ahead of the November midterm elections, where he will face incumbent Greg Abbott of the Republican Party, O’Rourke’s campaign is spending millions on TV ads announcing his resignation. The vote was a “referendum” on access to abortion.

“On this matter, one of the most important, if not the most important, issues to be decided in this election, Greg Abbott has the complete support of 11% of Texans,” he said. This said on MSNBC.

“This outright ban on abortion, with no exceptions for rape or incest, one of the most extreme laws in this country, does not reflect who we are in the state of Texas. It could be a reflection of Greg Abbott’s political priorities.”

He added: “But this is a unity of Texans, Republicans, Democrats, independents, unlike any I’ve seen before and I’ve lived here my whole life. .”

Becoming the first Democrat since Ann Richards, who lost his re-election bid to George W Bush in 1994, to occupy the governor’s mansion would be a stunning Democratic success.

A series of polls put Abbott ahead of the Democrats by at least six or seven points, with an average score compiled by Real Clear Politics of 48.4 for Abbott and 41.6 for O’Rourke.

However, unlike issues like gun control, where Democrats are often frustrated in their efforts to bring people together despite mass shooting events like the attack on an elementary school in Uvalde and the attack in 2019 at Walmart in El Paso, he believes the Supreme Court has eliminated Roe v Wadecombined with the Texas law banning abortion with virtually no exception, will get voters to vote.

Speaking to Fox 4 News in Dallas, O’Rourke was asked if he thought women would be his voters.

“This is essentially a referendum on whether we will go back half a century, or whether the state moves forward,” he said. “There will be Republicans, there will be independents, there will be Democrats, just like there will be people who have never voted in an election before because they don’t think it matters. and they know that in this election, their lives are literally on the way. They will appear. “

O’Rourke’s release of several ads attacking Abbott, 64, for signing one of the nation’s most restrictive bills into law, coincides with legislation that went into effect this week. Under that bill, no exceptions would be made for even cases of rape or incest, only if a doctor believes the mother’s life is in danger.

Members of the public can report people they deem to break the law and commit felonies, and doctors who perform abortions now face life in prison and a $100,000 fine. Texas is the largest state to ban abortion and has one of the worst half-dozen states in terms of maternal mortality.

There seems little doubt that this could bolster support for O’Rourke, 49; The question is how much, and whether it will have enough voters to defeat Mr. Abbott.

“There is no doubt that it helps Beto. It’s also a fair question as to whether it would help him,” said Matt Angle, longtime Texas strategist and founder of the Lone Star Project, a key action committee. value (PAC), say The Independent.

“But there is no question that Dobbs [v Jackson] The decision really goes beyond the typical abortion debate we’ve had for 30 years. Now, those are fundamental rights and values ​​as an American citizen, and whether women have basic access to make health care decisions.”

He added: “And that is being felt on a visceral level in a way that I’ve never seen before.”

Beto O’Rourke Claims Abortion Bans Uniting Texans in a Way He’s Never Seen In His Life

Renée Cross is a political scientist and senior executive director of the Hobby School of Public Affairs at the University of Houston. She conducted voting in Texas, looking at not only which candidates have the most support but also the issues that matter most to potential voters.

A report released in July showed Abbott leading O’Rourke by 5 points, with 5% undecided and 2% planning to vote for Mark Tippetts of the Liberal Party. The most important issues are inflation, crime and public safety, economic growth, government spending and taxes, and health care costs. Abortion is 10th on the list of 15, but that’s a more important issue for those likely to vote for O’Rourke.

Another University of Houston study found that 50% of Texans oppose this new abortion ban in Texas, with 46% in favor. But the same polls show a vast majority in favor of exceptions in cases of rape and incest. Only 13% of voters said there was no exception for rape and 11% supported no exception for incest.

Cross says the poll was done before the ban went into full effect and she believes the numbers have changed.

“I suspect, especially with all the news articles, as well as the various rallies and live Beto town halls, etc., those numbers may have moved a bit to be there. in favor of Beto’s position,” she said, adding that suburban women moved to Biden from Trump in 2020.

What’s new about abortion this time, she adds, is that “the right has been taken away”.

She added: “A lot of young people, especially women, have never lived in a time when abortion was illegal.

Is that big enough? “Well, we’ll have to see on November 8.”

Governor Gregg Abbot signed a near-total abortion ban into Texas law in 2021


Texas-based group Annie’s List, which recruits, trains and supports progressive Democratic women, says it’s also noticed that more and more women are paying attention to abortion, since the Court Supreme Court on June 24 overthrew. Roe v WadeA 50-year ruling in 1973 guarantees women across the United States the legal right to a safe and legal abortion.

“We have seen the following evidence-Roe Ana Ramón, chief executive officer of Annie’s List, said in a statement that women are engaged and more concerned with abortion rights is an issue.

“Given that the Republican Party of Texas has been the catalyst for so many of the anti-abortion policy movements we’ve seen across the United States, it’s no surprise that Beto’s campaign has gone ahead in restoring access to access to abortion and protect our fundamental right to abortion care.”

As part of her outreach on the issue, O’Rourke had the help of Cecile Richards, the former president of Planned Parenthood, and the daughter of Ann Richards, the last Democratic governor of Texas. The last Democrat running for president to win the state was Jimmy Carter in 1976, while in 2020, Donald Trump took over Texas 52-46 over Joe Biden.

“On Thursday, the most extreme abortion ban in the US went into effect across Texas,” Richards said in an email to potential supporters.

“Greg Abbott’s Dangerous Law forbids abortion from conception. It makes no exceptions for rape or incest. And 82% of Texans oppose it.”

She added: “But now it is the law of the land in Texas – because of Greg Abbott. Abbott not only chose to enact this radical abortion ban but is proud of what it has done to attack the freedom, health and lives of Texas women.”

In addition to realizing that for all its pockets of freedom, such as Austin, Texas remains a continuously red state and while O’Rourke can hope to get support from women voters In the suburbs of cities like Houston, there are a lot of people planning to vote for Abbott.

Though Abbott has kept something of a lower structure, he hasn’t shied away from his support for the ban.

“There is no freedom more precious than life itself. Starting today, every unborn baby with a heartbeat will be protected from the ravages of abortion,” he tweeted last year. “Texas will always defend the right to life.”

Confronted with a reporter last year about the bill making no exceptions for rape and incest, he said: “Rape is a crime, and Texas will work tirelessly to make sure that they do. I remove all rapists from the streets of Texas by fiercely going out and arresting them and prosecuting them and kicking them off the streets. “

Polls show a majority of Texans do not support an outright abortion ban


Failure to oust an incumbent wouldn’t be the first time O’Rourke promised something big, just couldn’t deliver.

He fought a spirited battle against Republican Ted Cruz in 2018 to try to grab a Senate seat, losing only 2.6% in the last race in Texas history.

However, his attempt to use that platform to challenge the presidency in 2020 has been uneven, with accusations of winning the right thrown at the former congressman. He dropped out of school as early as November 2019.

“Our campaign has always been about seeing clearly, speaking honestly and acting decisively,” O’Rourke tweeted. “In that spirit: I announce that my service to the country will not be a candidate or a nominee.”

Could 2022 be his year? He thinks so.

In the MSNBC interview with host Lawrence O’Donnell, he mentioned a recent vote in Kansas where residents voted 59-41 to reject a measure that would have stripped them of their rights. abortion.

“You and I, and the rest of your viewers saw what happened in Kansas in that deadly summer, a poll of referendum elections, with turnout vote at the presidential level and we won 60-40 to support a woman’s right to decide for herself about her own body and her own future,” he said.

“Well, there’s a referendum in Texas, [it] It’s the night of November 8, and this is the race for governor, and we’re going to win. “

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