Members of the Lincoln Project, a group of current and former Republicans dedicated to the downfall of former President Donald Trump, are now trying to sack Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.
The group has secured a $25,000 ad buy that blasts Abbott for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic. The ads will run during Saturday’s football game between the University of Texas and Rice University.
Abbott is a UT graduate.
“Greg Abbott is the exemplar of someone who once had principles and has abandoned them,” said Reed Galen, co-founded of the Lincoln Project and is a native Texan. “He has no further desire to talk about the marketplace of ideas.”
The television ad, named “Abbott’s Wall,” claims that if you made a wall from the caskets of Texans that died because of COVID-19, it would stretch from Austin to San Antonio. The ad features a gritty Texas landscape with captions that reveal dreadful coronavirus statistics. The commercial states that 3.8 million Texans have been diagnosed with the coronavirus. Of that total, 60,475 people have died. According to the ad, those deaths led to over 60,000 burials, with 85 miles of lumber used to make caskets.
“If Gov. Abbott wants to build a new wall, tell him to stop building this one,” the silent ad states with captions and without a narrator.
With Trump out of office for now, the next phase of the Lincoln Project’s work is to neutralize Republicans that are continuing with Trump’s policies or practices.
“We’ve seen an explosion and acceleration in what we would call Trumpist behavior, which is the idea that you have to be as extreme as you possibly can be, you have to be race to the bottom on these things,” Galen said. “We’ve taken a hard look at [Florida Gov.] Ron DeSantis and Greg Abbott because they are the next generation of what you’re going to see from Republican leaders.”
Abbott, a former Texas Supreme Court justice and former attorney general, has enjoyed strong support from all aspects of the Republican Party. But his second term has been dominated by his response to the COVID-19 pandemic and his embrace of Trump and his polices. The regular and special legislative sessions featured numerous legislation aimed at Trump supporters, including a controversial elections law that limited early voting options, a law that bans abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, the completion of a wall along the states border with Mexico and other issues.
The governor has also banned mask mandates, even though some local school districts and jurisdictions want them to protect students and teachers against the virus.
Galen said Abbott should have been focused on fortifying the state’s power delivery system, which was largely knocked off line in February after a massive winter storm. He added that Abbott should also allow for local control on issues involving the pandemic, including letting school districts decide whether to implement mask mandates to protect against the virus.
“It’s costing Texans their lives. It’s injecting chaos into their lives,” he said. “Moms and dads…they want their kids to go to school. They want their kids to be safe in school. They don’t want to see their relatives get sick.”
Galen said Abbott’s handling of the pandemic reflects that next generation of Trump-style politics.
“This is illustrating what you get when you take Trumpism and give it to somebody who actually knows how to use it,” he said.
Next year Abbott will seek a third term as Texas governor. He faces a primary challenge from former state Sen. Donald Huffines of Dallas and former Texas GOP chairman Allen West. On the Democratic Party side, Beto O’Rourke, who came close to beating incumbent Sen. Ted Cruz in 2018, could be a candidate against the winner of the Republican Primary.
Though it’s unlikely that the Lincoln Project would back Huffines or West, members say they will consider opposing Abbott in the general election.
“Abbott is not used to taking a punch right to the face,” Galen said. “He doesn’t like it. He probably hasn’t had it in a long time, if ever, and he’s going to experience a lot more of that kind of illustration about who he was versus who he is.”