The 2014 campaign season reached its nastiest point yet Friday, with a campaign ad by Texas gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis that plays off the disability of her opponent Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, while calling him a hypocrite in the same breath.
Abbott was struck by a limb falling from an oak tree in 1984, and has used a wheelchair ever since. In the ad titled “Justice”, a narrator shares that after the Republican's accident—which isn’t directly mentioned, though the ad opens with a shot of an empty wheelchair—he “sued and got millions. Since then he spent his career working against other victims.”
It’s a theme that’s played out in many of Davis’s ads, though this is the first to reference Abbott’s own disability. The Republican candidate has admitted receiving about $6 million in damages in the 30 years since the accident.
The Abbott campaign has blasted the ad as a “historic low for someone seeking to represent Texans.”
“Sen. Davis’ ad shows a disturbing lack of judgment from a desperate politician, and completely disqualifies her from seeking higher office in Texas," Abbott campaign spokesperson Amelia Chasse said in a statement.
Zac Petkanas, communications director for the Davis campaign responded to the backlash the ad has received Friday telling TIME, "This ad does not exist in a vacuum, it includes issues that have been raised throughout the campaign." Petkanas said Abbott "has been building a career denying that same justice across the state of Texas—not something Texas deserve to hear, they need to hear.”
With just three full weeks left until Election Day, the ad comes off as a rather desperate attempt to garner attention for Davis, who is trailing Abbot by about 11 points, according to Real Clear Politics.