Austin, Texas • Texas Republican gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott would not sign a measure to make it easier for women to bring pay discrimination lawsuits in state court, a spokesman said Wednesday in an apparent effort to get past an issue that has dogged the campaign for weeks.
Abbott, the state’s attorney general, previously refused to take a position on the bill known as the Lilly Ledbetter Act, which extends the statute of limitations for bringing lawsuits when an employer paid a person less because of their gender, race or religion.
"Because wage discrimination is already against the law and because legal avenues already exist for victims of discrimination, Greg Abbott would have not signed this law," campaign spokesman Matt Hirsch said Wednesday.
Hirsch stopped short of saying Abbott would have vetoed the act, as current Gov. Rick Perry did last year when Abbott’s Democratic rival in the governor’s race, state Sen. Wendy Davis, shepherded a state version through the Republican-controlled Legislature. The statement from Abbott’s office would allow him the option of using another tactic, which gives a Texas governor the right to allow a bill to become law 10 days after receiving it.
Davis gained national prominence last year when she staged a filibuster against a Republican-backed bill to tighten restrictions on abortion.
Abbott first dodged a question on whether he would support the pay discrimination law in a televised interview March 9, but the issue gained additional traction this week after comments by the female director of the Republican Party of Texas.
"Men are better negotiators, and I would encourage women to, instead of pursuing the courts for action, to become better negotiators," Beth Cubriel told Austin’s YNN television. Davis campaign spokeswoman Rebecca Acuna called Cubriel’s comments "offensive."
It was not the first time that Abbott’s supporters have complicated his message. Abbott had to distance himself from a recent comment by rock musician Ted Nugent, who described President Barack Obama as a "subhuman mongrel."
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