Will someone please take that political shovel from Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott so he can stop digging?He’s getting deeper and deeper into a hole by offending people he doesn’t have to in order to secure his position with the right-wing Republican base, a group he needs to win any primary election.But what I’m afraid he doesn’t realize is that his latest statements and actions may be energizing people in the state beyond that base, especially Democrats who have been waiting a long time for something to rejoice about in statewide elections.When was the last time you heard Texans singing Happy Days Are Here Again? Well, some are ready to strike up the band and start belting that tune, particularly if state Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, announces she will run for governor against the attorney general.It was bad enough that Abbott, after the Supreme Court struck down a section of the Voting Rights Act, quickly announced that the Texas voter ID law was back in effect, and then attacked the president and the U.S. attorney general when they vowed to seek a remedy through the courts. Rep. Marc Veasey, D-Fort Worth, sued the state to block implementation of the voter ID law, and on Tuesday Dallas County Commissioners voted to join that suit to protect citizens in that county where more than 200,000 voters don’t have the identification required by the state law.Abbott made another decision recently that surprised practically everyone in Texas when he joined with the federal government and five other states in opposing the merger of US Airways and Fort Worth-based American Airlines.Although the attorney general said he was protecting consumers, American’s pilot union and other business leaders have pointed out that blocking the merger would have a significant impact on employment and the overall economic health of North Texas.The heads of the Fort Worth and Dallas chambers of commerce, representing more than 4,000 businesses with 300,000 employees, asked Abbott in an open letter to reconsider his position.But Abbott doesn’t do a lot of reconsidering. He didn’t apologize for responding to an insensitive tweet from a supporter referring to Wendy Davis as an “idiot” and “Retard Barbie.” He thanked the supporter for the message, although he says now that he didn’t read it in full.“FYI: I thank supporters on Twitter, but I don’t endorse anyone’s offensive language,” he tweeted later. “Stay positive.”While Democrats probably have made more of this misstep than they should have, the blunder was of Abbott’s making. If he’s responding to tweets that he doesn’t read, that is a dangerous situation for any politician, especially one who wants to be Texas’ next governor.By saying “Thanks” to that supporter, he was giving his approval of an insult to Davis and a very offensive term for the mentally challenged.As for Davis, I’m sure the more Abbott and her other detractors demean her, the more her star rises nationally and internationally. They are helping to make her a formidable candidate if she chooses to run for governor.To be associated with a remark that is derogatory toward the disabled, however, is unforgivable unless the attorney general makes a sincere apology.Maybe Texas is such a red state that Abbott isn’t worried about being defeated in the primary or the general election. Perhaps he can afford to lose a few independent voters and maybe even some Republican business people upset with his stand on the American-US Airways merger.What he can’t afford to do is arouse thousands of new voters by his and his party’s treatment of Davis and his apparent insensitivity toward others. Those voters, who might otherwise be inclined to sit out the election, just might overwhelm the ballot boxes next year, with or without their IDs.
Bob Ray Sanders' column appears Sundays and Wednesdays. 817-390-7775 Twitter: @BobRaySanders