Texas gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis is pushing women's rights issues in the final months of her campaign, attempting to capitalize on the very issue that gave her national notoriety.
On Wednesday, Davis, a Democratic state senator, called for an end to the statute of limitations on rape and sexual battery cases in Texas.
Davis has been trailing her opponent in the governor's race, Texas Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott, by double digits for most of the summer. Now Davis is focusing in on the kind of women’s sexual health and rights issues that catapulted her to fame in 2013, when she staged an 11-hour filibuster against a bill that would have radically restricted abortion access in the state.
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Earlier this month, she launched a controversial ad accusing Abbott of “siding with a corporation over a rape victim” in a 1993 case involving an alleged rape by an employee of a vacuum company.
The court sided with the plaintiff in a lawsuit against Kirby, the vacuum company, but Abbott dissented, saying the company owed the woman nothing. Abbott’s campaign derided Davis's ad as “gutter politics.”
"Wendy Davis has a record of fighting for survivors of rape while Greg Abbott has shown a disturbing pattern of using his position of power to side against the victims of brutal rape time and time again," Davis spokesman Lauren Weiner told msnbc. "His record shows that's he's only looking out for corporations and insiders instead of defending the Texans he's supposed to be looking out for."
Abbott's campaign did not respond to msnbc's request for comment.
Davis’s call for an end to the statute of limitations in Texas is an extension of the lawmaker's earlier work. The Texas legislature passed a bill she authored in 2011, which pushed law enforcement agencies to work through a backlog of untested rape kits. Davis personally pressed law enforcement officials to keep up the work on the kits. Now, Davis says, the statute of limitations must be eliminated for those victims to get justice, particularly if their rape kit went untested for years.
Current Texas law mandates that sexual assault cases can't be prosecuted after a decade.
Both Abbott and Davis have largely steered clear of another issue dominating Texas politics in recent days -- the indictment of Gov. Rick Perry over allegations of abuse of power.
Both candidates were careful not to get too close to Perry’s indictment in recent appearances, according to The Dallas Morning News.
“These are serious charges,” Davis said Wednesday in a news conference. “I trust the justice system to do its job and I won’t presuppose what the outcome will be.”
Abbott questioned how the governor could be indicted for simply exercising his authority, saying in an interview on Fox News, “I don’t know what to think of it.”