New Governor Abbott Ad Features Sutherland Springs Shooting Survivors

AUSTIN, Texas (KTRK) -- Governor Greg Abbott told Eyewitness News his new campaign advertisement is about hope and inspiration. But that's not exactly how Texas Democrats see it.

The new ad, in Abbott's race against challenger and former Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez, features Julie and Chris Workman. Both of them were inside the church in Sutherland Springs in November 2017 when a gunman opened fire killing 26 and injuring 20. Chris was shot in the back and paralyzed. His mother Julie recalled seeing the Governor come into her son's hospital room.

"Him coming in, in a wheelchair," said Workman in an interview Monday morning with Eyewitness News, "just brought to my mind that everything that I had thought was being taken away from me, was not taken away from me at all."

The ad is against the backdrop of gun violence, an issue that, in the wake of the Santa Fe shootings, pushed the Governor to hold a series of roundtable discussions in May. He said then he was for a so-called Red Flag law-that would temporarily take away guns from those deemed a threat. He's since backed off that position. On Friday, his political opponent Lupe Valdez seized on the issue.

"I believe that if you're saying we're not going to do red flag laws then we're okay with people doing harm to themselves and others," said Valdez during the debate.

Monday, the Texas Democrat Party suggested the new ad rings hollow.

"He has failed to prove time and time again," said spokesperson Tariq Thowfeek, "in the wake of these tragedies, that he can step up to a role and provide the safety and the common sense reform that Texans really deserve."

But the Governor says leading is exactly what he's doing, which is why he believes voters will give him another term in office in November.

"The real goal of this is to convey that sense of hope despite catastrophic challenges," he told Eyewitness News. "I have a lot of different jobs to do as Governor but probably the most important one is to help my fellow Texans feel that sense of hope that sense of opportunity."

Follow Tom Abrahams on Facebook and Twitter.
Copyright © 2022 KTRK-TV. All Rights Reserved.