BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - U.S. Representative Ralph Abraham’s second television ad outperformed the campaign’s expectations, the Republican candidate for governor told WAFB Tuesday, Aug. 27.
In the commercial, Abraham makes eight statements that he calls “the truth," though not all viewers will recognize each of the statements as fact.
“As a doctor, I can assure you there are only two genders,” the congressman says at the ad’s conclusion.
Millions of Americans have watched the 30-second spot that Fox News radio host, Todd Starnes, called “the best campaign ad” he’d seen in years.
“[Politicians] are very good at deflecting and avoiding direct questions and direct issues,” Abraham told WAFB. “I’m not that guy. You ask me a direct question, I’m going to give you a direct answer.”
In the ad, Abraham asserts that “life begins at conception, the government is too big, our taxes are too high, and our car insurance is too expensive. President Trump is doing a great job, facts matter more than feelings, the second amendment is self-explanatory."
The statements have riled supporters and detractors alike, injecting life into a mostly quiet governor’s race. Open primary closes Oct. 12.
Abraham says he will treat members of the LGBTQ community “as fair as anybody else in the world,” and says his argument is rooted in disgust with Louisiana’s high insurance rates.
The idea, Abraham says, is that anti-discrimination measures, like an executive order Gov. John Bel Edwards issued years ago that was later struck down, create more opportunities for workers to sue their employers.
As Election Day nears, Republicans have repeatedly attempted to make the state’s legal climate a hot button issue. Because Louisianans are sued more frequently than people in other states, Republicans contend insurance companies charge higher rates to cover their losses.
“I have six granddaughters," Abraham said. “I don’t want a man in the dressing room with them. I don’t want a man in the bathroom with them, but from a legal aspect, we know that is about suing, suing, suing. My goodness, we have enough of that.”
Louisiana Trans Advocates President Dylan Waguespack says the evidence suggests anti-discrimination laws do not lead to more lawsuits. He argues the ad is “dehumanizing” and out of touch, citing polling from Just Win Research that indicates most Louisianans support protections against discrimination for LGBTQ workers.
“Words matter. Ralph Abraham might not have the high profile that he wishes he did, but he’s still a congressman and a candidate for governor,” Waguespack said. “His words carry weight, and he has the responsibility to use them wisely.”
Waguespack says he doubts whether Abraham could govern with the LGBTQ population’s best interests in mind based on the message he says his latest ad conveys.
“It sends a very clear signal to the people in the trans community and our allies, the LGBT community-at-large, that this is someone who’s not planning on doing the work of being governor for all the people,” Waguespack said.
“I have not one discriminatory bone in my body," Abraham said, defending his capacity for fairness. “This is not about that at all. This is about lawsuits.”
Abraham is pushing a plan to deter frivolous lawsuits by putting more car wreck cases in front of juries, for example.
That plan died in the legislature in 2019 because of senators’ concerns the bill would not lower auto insurance rates, some of which have fallen in the past year.
“My job, and what the taxpayer and the voters should expect and demand, is that they know what they’re getting as a governor,” Abraham said.
He says to “stay tuned” for similar ads that figure to spark more drama.