Wendy Davis 2014: Her Run for Governor Could Transform Texas Politics
Reports are out that famed-filibusterer and Sen. Wendy Davis (D-Texas) will be running for governor in 2014. An official statement is slated to come out next week. While her run might make Texas history by shining light on its broken politics, it's doubtful that she can win.
Democrats in Texas and across the country have been attempting to persuade Davis to run for governor since she garnered national attention during her June filibuster over new abortion clinic regulations. Earlier this month, Davis inspired rounds of intense speculation when she sent an email to supporters indicating she would announce her decision for 2014 at an event at the beginning of October. Her intentions seemed to have leaked early on Thursday.
A Davis win is predicated on the idea that Texas can turn blue between now and November. But this is highly unlikely. Democrats haven't reached 44% in any recent statewide election in Texas. There are no projections available that indicate this will change in the next year. It's too soon.
Stefan Hankin of Lincoln Park Strategies recently predicted that — at best — shifts in the electorate will only likely earn a Democratic candidate 41.6% by 2014, far from the amount needed to take the governorship. There is much merit to that project. The percentage of white, largely conservative voters spikes during midterm election years, which could potentially overwhelm what little ground the Democratic Party has gained with this demographic in the past few years in Texas.
Lincoln Park Strategies predicts a 2014 electorate made up of voters that are "65% white, 13% black, and 18% Hispanic, with the last 4% split between Asian and other ethnic groups." This makeup is less favorable to the Democrats than in both the 2004 and 2008 elections, neither of which sent their party more than 42% of the vote.
Davis currently trails Republican candidate for governor and current Attorney General Greg Abbott in the polls, which is not likely to change in the next year. These projections only matter if you believe that the only reason Davis should run is if she can win. I'm not a member of that camp.
Texans Republicans publicly dismiss Davis, but she really does rattle them. She makes them say and do things they are uncomfortable doing, like attempt to force a vote through after its deadline or thank a supporter for calling Davis a "retard Barbie." She's pushing Texas politics to the brink, which is exactly what it needs.
A Davis run, even if it is currently a losing battle, stands to change the face of Texas politics. The outspoken, people-oriented female candidate is a long shot from the politicians Texas is used to, who tend to come in the form of an ultra-conservative, rich, white males. Texas politicians like Governor Rick Perry and Sen. Ted Cruz have made a fool of their state with their vitriolic rhetoric and intolerance towards people who don't fit in a neat box of what they think American citizens should look like or act like. Davis can change that tune, or at least begin to.
This is not going to be a traditional campaign — it's going to be brutal. And Davis should use that to her full advantage. While she definitely won't win, she'll succeed in pointing out all of the ways that Texas politics are broken, and she'll do it with a megaphone in the form of national news.