September 29, 2022

How a Texas mother started the political movement against Governor Greg Abbott

It all started when activist Nancy Thompson’s son ended up in the emergency room last year with a viral infection warning doctors could put his son at risk for a serious bout with COVID-19. The Austin mother-of-three immediately worried about having to send her son back to school just as Gov. Greg Abbott ended statewide mask mandates.

“I was afraid he would go to school, catch another virus and die,” Thompson said. “I was upset because Abbott wasn’t doing anything to take care of the kids in Texas.”

Thompson expressed his frustration at the State Capitol last August, joining other protesters in opposing the state’s pandemic measures. His sign read “Mothers Against Greg Abbott.” At the time, she didn’t realize the post shared the same MAGA acronym as former President Donald Trump’s campaign slogan: Make America Great Again. “I didn’t know what to put on the billboard but I knew I was really mad at Greg Abbott,” she says.

A photo of Thompson and his sign taken that day at the Capitol almost instantly went viral when it was posted on social media. Seeing how the post resonated with so many inspired her to start a Facebook group using the same name. The group has since swelled to nearly 57,000 members, a number that continues to grow “every time Greg Abbott opens his mouth,” Thompson said.

Much of the newly formed political action committee’s success comes from its recent hard-hitting ads, including one that features Texas mothers who are fed up with how state government failures are affecting their families when nothing exchange. “We just wrote ads that we wanted to see,” Thompson said. “We were just fed up with ads that weren’t hitting back.”

Released in April, the group’s first ad titled “Breaking Bread” called on women divided by partisan politics to settle their differences and find common ground. It’s a message Thompson has sought to amplify with the PAC, which she says combines Democrats, moderate Republicans and independents. “We all need to start working together again and talking to each other again to have a better change for Texas,” says Thompson. “We are Texans and we are so much better when we all work together for the common good of all Texans.

One of the band’s most ambitious commercials, released in July shortly after the cancellation of Roe v. Wade by the Supreme Court, portrays a doctor calling Abbott to ask if he would allow a Texas woman to have an abortion. The clip has amassed over seven million views (and counting) via the PAC’s Twitter account. “Some of the biggest issues for us are a woman’s right to choose, and a woman’s privacy and rights over her own body,” Thompson said.

The PAC’s most recent ad, posted on Monday, depicts a child wearing a body armor and helmet on his first day of school. The viral spot comes nearly three months after the mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas, where 19 children and two teachers were killed by a gunman carrying AR-15 semi-automatic rifles. The horrific event sparked a vocal push by state Democrats and other groups for Abbott to call a legislative session aimed at addressing gun violence. After the massacre, Thompson said his group experienced its biggest increase in membership yet.

“We can’t normalize gun violence to the point of thinking it’s okay to send our kids to school dressed as soldiers instead of going to school and being kids,” Thompson said. about the advertising message. “We’re taking their childhood away from them and that’s not OK.”

The solution, says Thompson, should be to pass tougher gun laws in the Lone Star State. A survey conducted by the Dallas Morning News and University of Texas at Tyler conducted in August shows that a majority of Texans don’t believe elected officials are doing enough to prevent gun violence. “He’s not delivering what the Texans want and we don’t accept that anymore,” Thompson said. “We just need to vote him out of office.”

Governor Abbott did not immediately respond to request for comment.

Last week, Mothers Against Greg Abbott announced that it had put up five billboards across Texas criticizing the Texas governor for his response to the Uvalde school shooting. The billboards quote Abbott, who said at a press conference after the shooting that the massacre of 19 children and two teachers “could have been worse.”

The mother-led PAC will run a new ad every week until the November election, Thompson said, adding that she wants to “put Texas families back on the map and give them a place at the table in Texas politics.” . Thompson clarified that she has never run for office and is not a professional politician. “I’m just a mom who knows how to organize and defend herself very well,” she says.

The group also backed Abbott’s November opponent, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke, who Thompson says wants to support all Texans, including Republicans and Democrats. “He wants to make Texas a better place to live for all of us than what Greg Abbott and the Texas GOP are doing, making new enemies of Texans all the time,” she says. “They’re on a mission to put Texans in boxes, to keep us from working together and talking to each other. And that has to stop.”