- Associated Press - Monday, August 11, 2014

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - Wendy Davis is facing new pressure in her campaign for Texas governor over her past support of a moratorium on the death penalty when she was a Fort Worth city councilwoman.

Davis voted in July 2000 for a resolution calling for a moratorium in order to study the death penalty and possible changes, The Houston Chronicle reported (https://bit.ly/1pKzcQR ). The vote on the resolution failed, 5-4, and Davis, now a Democratic state senator from Fort Worth, has said she supports capital punishment.

Her campaign said the issues that motivated her vote then have been resolved, and reaffirmed that she would allow executions to be carried out as governor.

But the campaign of her Republican opponent, Attorney General Greg Abbott, accused her of changing her position.

“Texans demand and deserve a strong commitment from their leaders to ensure that victims of unspeakable crimes receive justice, not Sen. Davis’ flip-flopping and political posturing,” Abbott spokesman Matt Hirsch said.



Texas is the nation’s most active death-penalty state and has executed seven convicts this year. Support for the death penalty remains strong, even as the debate over capital punishment nationally has been renewed after recent botched executions in Oklahoma and Arizona and issues with procuring reliable execution drugs. Texas has not had a botched execution in recent years.

The resolution Davis supported was for a study of the death penalty without taking a specific position on capital punishment as a whole, according to Fort Worth city council minutes reviewed by the newspaper.

“It in no way means to suggest that a person’s philosophy on capital punishment had to change or shift, only that the system needed to be looked at or reviewed,” the minutes said.

That same year, Illinois enacted a moratorium on executions after several high-profile exonerations of death row inmates, and President Bill Clinton postponed the first federal execution since 1963.

Zac Petkanas, Davis’ spokesman, told the newspaper that Davis was confident in the death penalty now and would continue to enforce it if elected governor.

“In fact, she voted (in 2011) to expand the death penalty to those who murder children under the age of 10,” he said. “Senator Davis remains a proponent of the death penalty as ultimate punishment.”

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Information from: Houston Chronicle, https://www.houstonchronicle.com

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