Coulda Been Worse LLC ad campaign slams Gov. Greg Abbott as Beto O'Rourke gains ground

The political group "Coulda Been Worse. LLC" has released a new ad campaign criticizing Governor Abbott's response in the wake of the deadly school shooting in Uvalde.

"On that terrible day, when our governor was told about the massacre of children and teachers in Uvalde, he had to make a choice, head to Uvalde take charge, comfort families, be the father of Texas or keep his plans. Attend a high dollar political fundraiser for 3 hours. He chose the cash. Choices are about character. Our governor made his. It could have been worse. Paid for by. Could have been worse. LLC," the Coulda Been Worse campaign ad said in part.

This political ad debuts as a new poll from the University of Texas suggests Abbott's lead over Democratic challenger Beto O'Rourke is down to 5%. 

Matt Mackowiak, chair of the Travis County Republican Party, and Sonia Van Meter, a political campaign consultant, join FOX 7 Austin's Rebecca Thomas to discuss.

Rebecca Thomas: Sonya. Do you find truth in the message conveyed by that ad and will it be effective?

Sonia Van Meter: It's hard to dispute. You know, there are a lot of really horrible things have happened to Texans and to Texas over over the last few years. And it's all happened on Governor Abbott's watch. Either he has failed to act as a result of horrifying school shootings or even worse, you know, been a factor in making certain calamities, like, you know, taking away women's right to choose. You know, these are all things that he's contributed to himself. He's been decidedly pro-gun, decidedly anti-choice. And when it comes to the power grid, something that affects all Texans everywhere, there's been almost nothing done in that sense since the big freeze to ensure that that doesn't happen again the next time the temperature drops below 32 degrees. So, you know, like it or not, it's difficult to to argue with with these sort of ads from from this sort of entity. Right now. 

Rebecca Thomas: The latest polling numbers indicate Governor Abbott's lead is slipping a bit. Do you think an ad campaign like this is going to be effective in swaying voters in O'Rourke's direction? And what should the governor's counter messaging be?

Matt Mackowiak: Well, this adds a cheap shot. He was in a rural part of the state on official business. He did have a political event that evening. You know, it's rare when you get to go to a rural part of the state when you're governor of Texas. He was working on utility for hours while he was there on the phone with his DPS director, on the phone with his senior staff, on the phone with local officials. And he was in Uvalde either later that night or early the next morning, and spent enormous amount of time in Uvalde privately consoling families, making sure the local officials have what they need. The state has put unprecedented resources into Uvalde, and it's not true to say he's done nothing after Uvalde Now he hasn't called a special session and tried to seize guns from lawful gun owners in Texas as the left wants. What he has done instead is demand it to do a security sweep and a search of every school in Texas before the school year began. And presumably that occurred because if it hadn't, I'm sure we would know that. So, look, the challenge I think the Democrats have is that most Texans are really happy to be in Texas and Texas works. It does very well compared to almost every other state. So they're there. The only way they have a chance to make this competitive is to sort of tear down Texas and the direction Texas is going. And as we say in Texas, that dog will hunt. Texas is a model of freedom. It's a model of economic prosperity and opportunity. You have people moving here from failed Democratic states like California, Illinois, Massachusetts, because Texas works. And I think even Sonia knows that.

Rebecca Thomas: Sonia, the company that put out this ad, has a listed address in Virginia, along with an unnamed along with unnamed donors. Do you have an issue with out-of-state interests having influence in a Texas election, or is this just par for the course when it comes to politics in general?

Sonia Van Meter: It is par for the course when it comes to politics in general. And it is perfectly legal. Thanks to the nationally unpopular Supreme Court decision. The Citizens United Democrats have been saying for years that this decision would lead to all kinds of dark money influencing politics in nefarious ways. And Republicans promised for years that that wouldn't be the case. But this is exactly where we are now. And, you know, it's just sort of the state of politics nationally. And you're in Texas.

Rebecca Thomas: Matt, we are running out of time. Final thoughts?

Matt Mackowiak: Yeah. It's hard to make an argument that a dark money group in Virginia cares who that governor of Texas says. This is obviously national left wing money that's coming into Texas. And that's that's what we've seen from Beto as well. He does have a large number of small dollar donors. His large dollar donors are to a great extent outside of the state. So this is this election is going to be decided by Texans. It's going to affect Texans. And I'm highly confident Governor Greg Abbott will be reelected and he deserves that. 

Rebecca Thomas: All right, Matt, Sonia, thank you both for sharing your perspectives with us tonight.