Tag Archives: Wendy Davis

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.

U.S. Sen. O’Rourke? Let’s wait and see about that one

Beto O’Rourke wants to succeed Ted Cruz in the U.S. Senate.

To be honest, few things political would make me happier than to see the Cruz Missile brought back to Earth by a loss to a up-and-comer such as O’Rourke.

Will it happen?

I refer you to “Gov.” Wendy Davis, the former Democratic state senator who once was thought to have an actual chance at defeating Greg Abbott in the race for Texas governor in 2014. She lost by more than 20 percentage points.

O’Rourke represents an El Paso congressional district. He’s seen as one of the next generation of Texas Democratic stars, along with, oh, Julian and Joaquin Castro, the twins from San Antonio; Julian served as San Antonio mayor and then went to work in Barack Obama’s Cabinet as housing secretary. Joaquin serves in the House along with O’Rourke.

Cruz became a serious pain in the patoot almost immediately after being elected to the Senate in 2012. He took no time at all before inheriting the role once occupied by another Texas U.S. senator, fellow Republican Phil Gramm, of whom it used to be said that “The most dangerous place in American was between Gramm and a TV camera.” Cruz loves the limelight and he hogged it relentlessly almost from the moment he took office.

Sen. Cruz repulses me, as if that’s not already clear. Cruz once actually questioned the commitment of two Vietnam War combat veterans — Democratic Sen. John Kerry and Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel — to the nation’s military strength; Cruz never wore a military uniform.

But is he vulnerable to a challenge from Beto O’Rourke? There’s no need to count the ways why I don’t think O’Rourke is going to beat him. There’s really only a single factor to consider: O’Rourke is a Democrat and Cruz is a Republican and as near as I can tell, a semi-trained monkey can get elected to damn near any office in Texas — as long as he runs as a Republican.

I say this understanding that a year from now a lot of factors can change. Will any of them turn O’Rourke from prohibitive underdog to overwhelming favorite?

Texas remains a deeply red state and is likely to remain so for, oh, the foreseeable future — if not beyond.

My most realistic hope is that Rep. O’Rourke —  if he wins his party’s U.S. Senate primary next year — makes this enough of a contest to force Sen. Cruz to think of Texans’ needs before he thinks of his own political interests.

Clinton, Trump: party unifiers


Texas Democrats are meeting in San Antonio this weekend.

They appear to be downright giddy about their chances in this election year. Then again, they proclaim their giddiness at every election cycle, only to be disappointed when the ballots are counted.

Do you remember when former state Sen. Wendy Davis of Fort Worth ran for governor in 2014 and how Democrats said that was the year? It wasn’t. Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott thumped Davis by more than 20 percentage points.

That was then, Democrats are saying now.

They’re squaring off against a Republican Party being led by one Donald J. Trump as their party’s presidential nominee.

State Sen. Rodney Ellis of Houston asked convention attendees: “Can you really believe that they nominated Donald Trump?” Why, the delegates couldn’t get enough of the “good news.”

Trump is going to be the unifier the Democrats need to help them carry Texas this fall with Hillary Rodham Clinton at the top of their ticket.


But here comes the wet blanket.

Hillary Clinton is going to unify the Republicans, too.

There are differing dynamics, as I see it, working against both parties’ presumed nominees.

Democrats cannot believe that Trump — the huckster, reality TV celebrity, hotel and real estate mogul, thrice-married media star — is actually running for president of the United States of America. They dare not take him too lightly, and delegates are being warned of the risks inherent if they do.

Republicans, meanwhile, detest Clinton. They’ve been looking high and low for something that rises to the level of an indictment. They can’t find anything. They’ve hated her since her husband was president from 1993 to 2001.

I’m not going to project which emotion — the Democrats’ perverse joy or the Republicans’ loathing — is going to be the greater partisan unifying effect.

The major concern facing Republicans in Texas might not be the Democrats. It might be that their own party is showing signs of splitting apart because of their nominee’s own trouble within the party he wants to lead.

That, all by itself, might be enough to put Texas in play for Democrats, giving them a real honest-to-goodness reason for optimism.

Davis's political future is clouded … at best

This is tough for a Texas liberal such as yours truly to acknowledge, but a well-known political observer is likely correct about Wendy Davis’s future in state politics.

She doesn’t appear to have one.


Texas Monthly blogger Paul Burka notes in a brief post that Davis, a Democrat, managed to parlay a thought-to-be-competitive governor’s race in 2014 into a rout — for the Republican, Gov.-elect Greg Abbott.

Her loss in the governor’s race was worse than the percentage Tony Sanchez rang up against Rick Perry in 2002. Hey, whatever happened to Sanchez?

Burka said Davis is making some noise about seeking another public office. Where? Doing what?

I’m not prone to piling on here, but Davis ought to take a bit of a break from seeking to serve in some public capacity. She is a lawyer, after all, and she can kick-start a private practice in Tarrant County.

I was one of those Texans who had hope that Davis at least could make a race of the contest for governor. She entered the campaign with the wind at her back. She then managed to do a 180 and turned a tailwind into a headwind. Her campaign never got traction.

She lost the contest by 20-some percentage points.

Should she run again? No, Wendy. No!

At least not for a while.



Texas Monthly scores big with Bum Steer of Year

Stand up. Take a bow, Texas Monthly’s editors. You’ve done yourselves proud with this year’s selection of the Bum Steer of the Year.

The “honor” goes to soon-to-be-former state Sen. Wendy Davis, this year’s losing candidate for Texas governor. Davis didn’t exactly snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in losing to Gov.-elect Greg Abbott. However, she did manage to turn what should have been a competitive contest into yet another (ho, hum) Republican rout.


As Texas Monthly notes, 2014 produced its share of goobers and goofballs from which to choose.

It cites Gov. Rick Perry’s indictment for abuse of power and coercion of a public official; U.S. Rep. Louis Gohmert for being, well, Louie Gohmert.

But oh, no. They didn’t hold a candle to Davis.

She entered the governor’s race as the prohibitive favorite among Democrats. She won her party’s nomination in a breeze. National party leaders swept into Texas to stand with her. The applauded her 2013 filibuster of that Republican bill that would severely restrict a woman’s ability to end a pregnancy. She got lots of money from rich donors.

Davis was going to make a real race of it, by golly.

Then she fooled us all by screwing up her biography and then making a mess of it by trying to explain it away. Once her campaign got started — in a manner of speaking — she never got traction on anything. No issue became her campaign signature.

That “competitive” governor’s race turned into a 20-point blowout. The Texas Democratic Party is in even worse shape than it was before the election and, as Texas Monthly notes, her Senate seat will be held by a Republican when the next Legislature convenes in January.

Congratulations, Wendy Davis, on your richly deserved (dis)honor.

And Texas Monthly’s editors? You have chosen well.


Davis's campaign in shambles?

Now we know what happened to Wendy Davis’s campaign for Texas governor.

She veered too far to the left, as if there’s really a “middle ground” among Texas voters.

The Texas Tribune is reporting that some internal memos within the Democratic nominee’s campaign for governor reveal a campaign in disarray. It was disorganized, not unified on the message it intended for the candidate to give. In general, it was doomed almost from the get-go.


This is news?

Gov.-elect Greg Abbott was the prohibitive favorite the moment he won the Republican primary in March.

Davis actually needed for Abbott to either drool on his shirt during a televised debate or launch into an f-bomb tirade against something his opponent said.

Well, none of that happened.

Davis’s campaign had the misfortune of running under the Democratic banner in a strong Republican year across the nation, let alone in GOP-heavy Texas. As the Tribune’s Jay Root reports: “Given the national wave that swamped Democrats around the country, including in governor races that Republicans won in traditionally blue states such as Maryland and Massachusetts, it’s highly unlikely that any political strategy would have ushered Davis into the Texas Governor’s Mansion.”

Still, the memos reveal some serious dysfunction among the Davis campaign’s brass. As Root reports: “The warnings are contained in two internal communications obtained by The Texas Tribune and written at the beginning of the year by longtime Democratic operatives Peter Cari and Maura Dougherty.

“’The campaign is in disarray and is in danger of being embarrassed,’ Cari and Dougherty wrote in a lengthy memorandum on Jan. 6. ‘The level of dysfunction was understandable in July and August, when we had no infrastructure in place — but it doesn’t seem to be getting better.’”

Meanwhile, the Abbott-Republican “ground game” kicked into high gear.

The lesson for future Democratic candidates? Try like the dickens to stake out some middle ground, plant yourself firmly on it and stick with a structured plan of attack.


GOP 'ground game' catches Democrats

Give credit where it most certainly is due.

The Texas Republican Party has developed what’s called a “ground game” that in this state more than rivals the Democratic efforts at getting voters to turn out.

The ground game has been credited with giving Greg Abbott an astounding victory in his campaign for governor over Wendy Davis.


Are you understanding all of this, Texas Democrats?

As the Texas Tribune reports: “The Abbott campaign’s stealthy ground game started with a huge paid field operation, spread out across Texas and costing $5 million to $6 million. The team, aimed largely at identifying and motivating voters who infrequently participate in state elections, was almost 10 times larger than the one Gov. Rick Perry put together in his 2010 re-election campaign.”

That’s what all the money Abbott raised was able to buy him. He managed to put a lot of players on the field all across the state and worked them hard to turn out the vote in places where Democrats used to stand tall.

The Tribune piece attached to this post lays out it quite clearly. Texas Republicans have gotten the message delivered by national Democrats, particularly those who helped elect Barack Obama president twice. The president’s ground game, and his campaign’s masterful use of social media to put his message forward has paid huge dividends.

My sense now is that the 2016 campaign — which now is more or less officially under way — is going to be a lot more competitive than some of us figured it might have been.

National Republican campaign strategists can look to Texas to see how this game is played and how it is won.

It matters a lot, because as the saying goes: Texas is “like a whole other country.”

'In support of abortion'? Hardly

The campaign for Texas governor is heading down the stretch and some state newspapers are weighing in with their editorial endorsements.

To no one’s surprise, near as I can tell, my local paper — the Amarillo Globe-News — is backing Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott. That’s their call and they’re certainly entitled to make it.

But there is a single phrase in the Sunday editorial that needs some, um, clarification. I will attempt to provide it here.

The fourth paragraph mentions Abbott’s experience as AG, state Supreme Court justice and his work as a “proven conservative.” Fine, so far — I guess. Then it goes on essentially to denigrate Abbott’s Democratic opponent, Wendy Davis, saying she is “best known for her marathon 2013 filibuster in the state Senate in support of abortion.”


In support of abortion?

Can we simplify this issue any more? Can we turn a topic for an intelligent discussion more graphically into a mere talking point?

This precisely is the kind of half-truth-telling bordering on demagoguery that launches me into orbit.

The bill that Davis filibustered — and which became law in a subsequent session of the Legislature — intended to put the brakes on a bill that would have limited women’s access to abortion if they so chose to obtain one. It does not “support” the procedure, as the editorial mentioned here implies. It intended to provide women the choice — which they deserve — in making arguably the most difficult decision any of them ever would have to make.

But no. Texas has turned “small-government conservatism” on its ear.

Conservatives claim to favor less-intrusive government — until it involves certain hot-button issues, such as abortion. Then they turn into big-government liberals, enacting laws that dictate to individuals how they should make decisions they rightfully should make in consultation with their own conscience, their loved ones, their physician or their faith.

The election is almost at hand. Abbott is favored to win the race for governor. Until then, may we discuss the candidates’ pluses and minuses with intelligence and avoid simple-minded slogans?



Davis showing some guts

Wendy Davis is playing the odds, I am guessing, with her declaration that she isn’t backing away from her support of President Obama.

The Democratic nominee for Texas governor is doing the opposite of what a lot of Democrats running for office in Republican-leaning states are doing. She’s embracing the president’s policies.

However, the odds are pretty strong that Barack Obama isn’t likely to show up at a Davis campaign rally in the Lone Star State prior to Election Day.

And that gives state Sen. Davis some cover to make her declaration.


Still, I have to admire her for standing tall on her principles, her party’s principles and her support for a president who has been elected twice by significant majorities of American voters.

It is quite true, of course, that the president isn’t very popular in Texas, where Republicans rule the roost across the board statewide. Davis is a distinct underdog in her campaign to defeat GOP attorney general Greg Abbott in the race for governor.

Davis, though, made it clear that she welcomes the president’s support.

According to the San Antonio Express-News: “‘I would be thrilled if he or the Clintons — anyone — wanted to come and help,’ Davis told reporters. ‘I’m very pleased that Michelle Obama was willing to record a radio ad for me, and I’m very honored to have their support and the support of so many prominent Democrats across the country.’”

The high negative ratings for the president, I believe, are a result of Republicans’ ability to control the debate. They’ve outshouted Democrats. The result has been to bring fear to Democratic candidates.

Given that I am wrong far more than I am right, I won’t take this to the bank just yet. I am pretty sure Davis is right that Obama has more pressing issues that will keep him away from Texas.

But if the president shows up, I am hopeful Davis will be true to her word and stands with him.

Where does Davis go from here?

This is not a particularly bold prediction: Wendy Davis is likely to lose her bid to become Texas’s next governor.

The Democratic nominee is being whipsawed by a combination of circumstances: She’s running in a heavily Republican state; she hasn’t gotten serious traction on the serious issues she’s sought to raise; her opponent, Greg Abbott, has proven to be unflappable in the face of intense criticism.

My question now is this: Where does the state senator go from here?


Some observers had speculated that Davis could emerge with a moral victory even in defeat. She’s made a name for herself. She gained national fame with that notable filibuster in 2013 of a strict anti-abortion bill. She is an articulate spokeswoman for her party.

The problem is that the Texas Democratic Party is in shambles. Republicans have grabbed every statewide office and have tightened the vise-grip they hold.

Davis had been seen as a possible leader of a Democratic resurgence. Trouble is that the resurgence has failed to take hold.

Davis’s future as a political star in Texas is questionable at best, and not because of anything she’s said or done, but because the party cannot seem to pull itself off the deck.

If she’s going to maintain a future in elected politics, it looks to me as though she ought to follow the Scott Brown model up yonder in New England. Brown, a Republican, lost his U.S. Senate seat in Massachusetts to Democrat Elizabeth Warren. Then he moved to neighboring New Hampshire and is mounting a serious challenge to Democratic U.S. Sen. Jean Shaheen.

Sen. Davis? New Mexico might be beckoning.