Tag Archives: carpetbagger

Is ex-state Sen. Davis, um, a carpetbagger?

I was a bit surprised to hear that former Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis, who used to represent Fort Worth and Tarrant County in the Legislature, is running for a congressional seat … way down yonder in San Antonio. 

She wants to run in the fall of 2020 against Republican U.S. Rep. Chip Roy, who damn near got beat in 2018 as Texas Democrats became energized by the candidacy of Beto O’Rourke in his race against U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz. Roy ran for he seat vacated when Lamar Smith decided against running for re-election.

I believe Wendy Davis is a fine public servant. She is smart, well-educated, capable and might prove to be a lightning-quick study on the issues pertaining to the 21st Congressional District. I don’t know much about Roy, other than he is a solid Donald Trump sycophant, er, supporter. Any effort to remove someone of that ilk is OK with me.

But I do wonder whether Davis’s opportunism isn’t revealing itself.

She burst on the national scene in 2013 when she led a Democratic filibuster in the Legislature against a stringent anti-abortion bill that eventually got passed by the Senate and signed into law by Gov. Greg Abbott. She then ran for governor the following year and got trounced by the incumbent.

Davis earned her political chops, though, by representing the Fort Worth area. I am now wondering if she isn’t opening herself up to critics who could suggest that she’s merely looking for a public office to occupy, so she found a potentially vulnerable Republican a good distance away from her home.

Politicians have been called “carpetbaggers” by employing that kind of tactic. I know Davis is not the first pol to do such a thing. She won’t be the last one, either.

Hey, Davis is a grownup. She likely is well aware of what lies ahead for her, presuming she wins the Democratic primary. I’m just looking ahead to what could become a bruising, bitter and bellicose battle for power in the U.S. House of Representatives.

‘Carpetbagger’ no longer a four-letter word?

Former Massachusetts U.S. Sen. Scott Brown is considering whether to run for Senate once again.

He might run for a Senate seat in … New Hampshire!

Brown isn’t from the Granite State, which borders Massachusetts. Indeed, one can get from virtually anywhere in Massachusetts to New Hampshire in pretty short order, given that the Bay State is so small in geographical size. For that matter, so are all the New England states.

Is the former senator a carpetbagger?


And isn’t it a bad thing to roll into a state, congressional district, legislative district, county commission district — name it — just to win a political office?

The very term “carpetbagger” became known after the American Civil War, when northerners carrying carpet suitcases went south to “reconstruct” the states of the former Confederacy. The term also applied to Republican political appointees who moved south packing the customary sturdy carpetbag luggage that was common in that era.

Well, “carpetbaggers” have moved into states to seek public office and done pretty well.

U.S. Attorney General Robert Kennedy fought off the carpetbagger charge when he quit President Johnson’s Cabinet to run for the Senate seat in New York in 1964, even though he lived in New York for only briefly when he was a boy. RFK won, served part of his first term, ran for president in 1968 and was killed by an assassin.

Hillary Rodham Clinton had even less familiarity with New York when she ran for the Senate in that state in 2000. She won, was re-elected in 2006, served until 2009, when she became secretary of state in the Obama administration and now appears set to run for president in 2016.

Those are the two more notable examples of “carpetbaggers” who made good.

Right here at home in the Texas Panhandle, we watched a Randall County resident, Victor Leal, move into a rental home in Potter County in late 2009 for the expressed purpose of running for a Texas House seat that included Potter County; his former residence was outside the district. The new Potter County resident lost the GOP primary in 2010. Leal had to fend off questions about his residency, which likely contributed to his defeat.

All in all, though, “carpetbagger” might technically still be a pejorative term but politicians have perfected ways of scooting past the negative implications.

Former Sen. Brown no doubt has his elevator speech lined out if and when the question comes up. He’ll likely be able to say that New Hampshire and Massachusetts are so packed so close together, they share the same media market and they share so many common interests and concerns that living in one state is like living in the other.

Times do change.