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Abbott wades into national gun control fray with new ads


The following ran in the Jan. 16, 2013, edition of the Austin American-Statesman. Political scientist Cal Jillson provided expertise for this story.

January 18, 2013

By Jonathon Tilove

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott Wednesday began running Web ads in Manhattan and Albany, N.Y., inviting New Yorkers who don’t want Gov. Andrew Cuomo to take away their guns to move to Texas, where they can keep their guns and more of their paychecks, leaving them with more money to buy ammo.

“Is Gov. Cuomo looking to take your guns? Sick of the media outing law abiding gun owns? Are you a lawful NY gun owner seeking lower taxes?” reads one of two pop-up ads, which began appearing Wednesday on media sites such as, the morning after Cuomo signed into law a sweeping new gun control measure prompted by the elementary school shootings in Newtown, Conn.

The provocative ads, deployed even as President Barack Obama was unveiling his agenda for curbing gun violence at a White House news conference, are a political bank shot by Abbott, who is contemplating a run for governor next year. He may be advertising in a few ZIP codes in New York, but his target is voters in Texas. He paid for the ads from his campaign fund....

The peril for Abbott, said Southern Methodist University political scientist Cal Jillson, is that if he tries to out-Perry Perry, he might end up with Perry’s national reputation as an unserious man.

“I think the kind of antics that work so well in Texas don’t travel very well,” Jillson said. Abbott might not care how he is viewed in New York City, or nationally, “as long as it works in Texas,” Jillson said. But, he added, “Abbott is a crafty guy,” and probably wants to stop short of the Perry line.

Jillson thinks Abbott might have stepped over the line with the Web ads. In any case, he said, “it strikes me as unnecessary.”