HOUSTON, TEXAS–Texas native and daughter of former Governor Ann Richards, Cecile Richards, formally announced the establishment of a Lone Star branch of Planned Parenthood Votes ahead of the 2014 Election. Modeling their approach after the 2013 Virginia gubernatorial election, Planned Parenthood could spend millions of dollars, according to recent wire reports.
Yvonne Gutierrez was named executive director for the Texas effort according to the Associated Press late Thursday. The organization promoted their intention to operate phone banks, direct mail campaigns and get-out-the-vote efforts according to the AP.
Gutierrez disclosed that the political entity would take the form of a 501(c)(4) super PAC, much like the Obama re-election campaign spin-off Organizing for Action. While the group will not be able to directly coordinate with candidates or offer direct contributions, the organization will be able to shield the identities of donors according to Internal Revenue Service code. Given the group’s initial stated purpose, it remains to be seen whether it will run afoul of IRS rules that it must operate as a “social welfare” organization–given its already-promoted plans that will qualify as “intervention in political campaigns” defined by federal regulations.
Despite the deep pockets and brand identification, Planned Parenthood’s political intervention in 2014 comes with great risk in Texas. New polling analyzed by Breitbart Texas Wednesday demonstrates a significant pro-life sentiment throughout the Texas electorate with less than a third of voters only allowing abortion procedures before the third trimester. Even worse, only 25 percent of voters believe Wendy Davis will win the Texas gubernatorial contest despite their personal preference in candidate.
Perhaps the greatest challenge for Planned Parenthood will be selling the abortion rights platform without upsetting culturally conservative Democrats in south Texas and along the Mexican border. Breitbart Texas reported shortly after the 2014 Joint Primary that Wendy Davis managed to lose half of the Texas border counties to an unfunded, pro-life candidate that made a habit of reminding voters that Davis was indeed the “abortion candidate.”
Message discipline may also be a considerable challenge, given Cecile Richards’ recent statements claiming that the question of “when life begins” to not be a “relevant” discussion in the greater abortion debate.
Despite the polling and polarizing messaging, Richards likes Planned Parenthood’s chances in Texas.
“I think that Greg Abbott, and certainly Gov. Rick Perry, are out of touch with where Texas voters are,” she told the AP.
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