Superceleb Wendy Davis—headed down the path to becoming Wendy Who?—won, as expected, the Texas Democratic primary for governor. She plans to base her campaign against Republican Greg Abbott on education, the economy, and jobs. As if Abbott were likely to let her off the hook as a showboating state senator who successfully filibustered a bill tightening abortion restrictions—prior to passage of the same bill once a new legislative session commenced. Take that, Wendy!
Out of nowhere last year came Sen. Davis of Fort Worth, wowing liberals from coast to coast as One Tough Sister, the anointed successor to Ann Richards. The campaign money poured in from both coasts; reporters crowded round. It seemed—as even a New York Times Magazine cover story noted in February—that she had oversold a few details in her narrative of single-mom-rises-from-trailer-park-to-Harvard-Law-School-and-queen-of-a-state-political-party-trying-to-resuscitate itself. She—um—glossed over some details, such as how much her second husband did by way of helping her through law school.
None of which matters infinitely. As a candidate, Davis is plausible without the background details. Women make up the bulk of Democratic voters. Davis is a woman. Voila! She’s likewise, despite or because of her Harvard background, a populist. This can sell in a state with an ethnic-minority majority, meaning blacks and Hispanics. (Or does that make sense at all? If you’re in the majority, can you be a “minority”? Whatever.)
Davis at the least gives Democrats some zip and pep after two decades of losing statewide elections to Republicans touting the state’s eye-popping economic growth and its small government/local power convictions. Abbott is one of these Republicans, as is Gov. Rick Perry. Davis, who got famous as a saleswoman for women’s rights, will find her Texas audience more sparse than Elizabeth Warren found hers in Massachusetts.
Exulting in her primary victory over the decidedly unknown Reynaldo Madrigal, Davis let on that she will fight for “all freedoms—not certain freedoms for certain people. Greg Abbott wants to dictate for all women, including victims of rape or incest, what decisions they should make. I will be a governor who fights for Texas’ future.”
Sure will be a change. Long identified with the whole conservative agenda—pro-life, pro-growth, etc.—Abbott knows his way around the territory in question far better than Davis does, with her limited exposure and experience. She’ll speak up for the teacher unions? Pour the expected scorn on school choice? It’s a free country. She can say whatever she likes, and probably she will. Greg Abbott, my guess is, can’t wait.
—William Murchison writes from Dallas for Creators Syndicate and is a senior editor of the Human Life Review. His latest book, The Cost of Liberty: The Life of John Dickinson, was published last year by ISI Books.