SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS (San Antonio Express-News) - Democratic gubernatorial nominee Wendy Davis, lagging behind in both polling and campaign finances, spent about $4 million in August to attack Republican opponent Greg Abbott on television.
The San Antonio Express News reported Monday that it reviewed the documents and interviewed industry experts to compile the figure. Davis is at a roughly three-to-one cash disadvantage and is trailing anywhere from eight to 16 points in the polls, with a little more than two months to go before Texans select a new governor.
The expenditure amounts to more than 30 percent of the campaign's total cash on hand as of last month. It has aired a particular attack ad at least 5,000 times statewide. The Davis campaign has been spending at a pace of about $1 million a week on TV ads between Aug. 8 and Labor Day.
The advertisements range from attacking Abbot for not siding with a rape victim while serving as a judge in the 1990s to slamming him for his role as a watchdog on a state cancer research fund.
Abbott's campaign spent more than $2.1 million during a two-week stretch in August for more than 2,200 spots. The advertisements feature Abbott's mother-in-law talking fondly about him.
Davis spokesman Zac Petkanas said the campaign is going negative early because Texans want a governor who "will fight for them."
"This is something that is critical for voters to understand as they make their choice about who should represent them in the Governor's Mansion next year," Petkanas said.
The Abbott campaign has denounced the television ads as a desperate tactic from a political opponent behind in the polls.
"Indicative of a candidate with no plan or vision for Texas, Sen. Davis' attacks have repeatedly failed to reach the end zone, and her latest ads continue to fumble the facts," said Abbott spokesman Matt Hirsch.
Brandon Rottinghaus, an associate professor of political science at the University of Houston who specializes in media and public opinion, said Davis is running out of time.
"This shows energy," he said. "They're not going to just allow the Republican machine in Texas to run them over."