Even before state Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, has announced her intentions for the 2014, she has taken a few jabs from Attorney General Greg Abbott's supporters and some directly connected to his campaign. One of those online criticisms labeled Davis a "Retard Barbie."
University of Texas at Austin Professor James Henson runs the Texas Politics Project and said this type of gender politics is a theme voters will see throughout 2014.
"There’s already a sense that gender politics are in the air, given the tone of both the women’s health debate in the legislature that of course helped propel Senator Davis into the public eye and some of the missteps by the Abbott campaign," Henson said.
Henson said that going forward, Abbott will need to steer away from the topic of gender politics, especially because in today’s social networking world, these type of attacks feed back into fundraising materials for the person being criticized online.
Henson said with Twitter and Facebook, each campaign will need to figure out a way to distance themselves from negative comments as well as respond to messages that may not be directly connected to them, but quickly become part of the campaign narrative and part of the public discourse.
Davis told a packed crowd at the Texas Tribune Festival in Austin last week that she’s been in tough fights before, most notably beating back Republican redistricting efforts to take over her state Senate district.
"I’ve leathered up a little bit over that, for sure," Davis said. "I’m capable of withstanding all kinds of heat, all kinds of nastiness, in order to try and deliver an important message for people who feel like they haven’t been heard."