There are a lot of ways Sen. John Cornyn could have gone after Dallas state Sen. Royce West, the newest entrant into Texas' Democratic Senate primary. They could have suggested that West was out of touch after nearly 30 years in office, or maybe too close to U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson's political machine. West's ethics record wouldn't have been a bad place to start either.
Taking West on those terms would have required a little nuance, however, and nuance is in short supply here in Texas in the Year of Our Lord 2019.
Royce West stood with the most liberal wing of his party to support painful, late-term abortions. He is unfit for Texas. https://t.co/6Gywgkywi3— Team Cornyn (@TeamCornyn) July 22, 2019
Instead, Cornyn's campaign committee rolled out a very scary looking website painting West as somewhere between Sen. Bernie Sanders and Chairman Mao ideologically.
Cornyn's website accuses West of standing behind his former state Senate colleague, Wendy Davis, in support of "painful, late-term abortions." Famously, in 2013, Davis filibustered against a law that would've required any health clinic providing abortions to be outfitted like a surgical suite, any doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the clinic at which they were performing abortions and banned abortions occurring more than 20 weeks after conception.
The Supreme Court ruled the surgical suite and admitting privileges requirements unconstitutional in 2016, and Davis herself said she had no problem with the 20-week ban, as long as it had appropriate protections for maternal health and fetal abnormalities. Neither Davis nor West ever supported so-called "late-term abortions."
In addition to the abortion fear-mongering, Cornyn insists that West, a consistent supporter of Second Amendment rights, is an anti-gun zealot.
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Here's a taste of West's leftist rhetoric on the issue from a 2017 community meeting in DeSoto:
“Over the years I've looked at this issue and there is where I'm at: I respect the Second Amendment right to bear arms, but I don't respect the right to carry a bazooka. There's a difference,” West said.
West, according to Rice University political scientist Mark Jones, is ideologically to the right of both former congressional candidate MJ Hegar and Houston City Council member Amanda Edwards, his two biggest rivals in the race to take on Cornyn. But you'd never know it from the senator's response to West getting in the race.
"If you want somebody who's going to be a strident progressive and essentially follow the left-wing path and appeal to the more rabid Democratic primary voters, that's Hegar," Jones says. "We pretty much know where West is ideologically. He's not a (conservative Democrat like) Chuy Hinojosa or Henry Cuellar, but he's also not a far-left Democrat."