Texas politicians are recoiling after a prominent Lubbock Democrat accused Republican candidate for governor Greg Abbott of “piñata politics” in a bigoted tirade and allegedly disparaged Abbott’s Latina wife.
“Greg Abbott came into our house uninvited, wanting to somehow give the illusion that the Lubbock County Hispanic community is supportive,” Lubbock city councilman Victor Hernandez said after Abbott visited the West Texas town and held a campaign rally at a Mexican restaurant. “If you want to come into my house, the first thing you have to do is to see me — see me as a person, see me as a human being, see me as a fellow Texan.”
Hernandez, who chairs the local chapter Tejano Democrats, is furious about Abbott’s appeal to Hispanic voters in his city. Even though Abbott was met by a crowd of supporters at Jimenez Bakery and Restaurant last week, Hernandez branded the stop as “offensive” to Hispanics and “beyond any sense of decency.”
He criticized Abbott and Republican candidates for not clearing their visit with local Hispanic groups.
The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal said Hernandez couldn’t recall specific examples of Wendy Davis showing the same deference to such groups. But he has doubled down on his fiery denunciation of the Republican candidate, and now he’s in hot water over his alleged use of the word “prop” to describe Cecilia Abbott, Greg Abbott’s Hispanic wife of 33 years.
In a post about the incident, PJ Media’s Bryan Preston reports that Hernandez labeled Cecilia Abbott “a prop” in her husband’s efforts to appeal to Hispanics. Abbott tweeted that Hernandez’s comments were “deeply offensive.”
Even that clarification remains in dispute. On the day of the event, the Avalanche-Journal reported that Hernandez used “prop” to describe the local Hispanic community.
Nonetheless, Hernandez never walked back his claims of Abbott’s playing “piñata politics” or coming “into our house uninvited.”
Hernandez’s behavior drew criticism from his colleagues in city hall and prompted the mayor to issue an apology to Abbott. In a letter, Mayor Glen Robertson called Hernandez’s comments “troubling” and made clear that Hernandez “does not speak for the Council, the City of Lubbock or for the citizens of this great city.”
Two fellow city councilmembers said Hernandez needs to recognize his position of influence and the “overtures that came along with you being an elected official” before making such comments.
Hernandez has a contentious past on the city council. Last year, Lubbock residents submitted enough signatures to launch a recall election against him, led by former county commissioner Ysidro Gutierrez. Among other things, Gutierrez charged that Hernandez voted to ignore complaints about his own behavior that had been lodged by the city manager.
“That is just not due process, and it is un-American for the accused to dismiss a complaint that has been filed against them,” Gutierrez said at the time, describing Hernandez as “the divider at City Council.” Nevertheless, Hernandez eked out a victory and retained his seat.
In his follow-up comments following the Cecilia Abbott flap, Hernandez played the race card and refused to back down.
“I will not apologize for being an American of Mexican descent,” he said. ”I will not apologize for being a Texan of Mexican descent. I will however, apologize to all people of good will, regardless of race or ethnicity and, regardless of party affiliation, for the insensitivity being exhibited by the Texas Republican Party towards the Hispanic community.”
— Andrew Johnson is an editorial associate at National Review Online.