Friday, February 07, 2014

Hey Wendy: you're not supposed to run to the right until after the primary

Another poorly-advised headscratcher from Wendy Davis. TexTrib, because they wrote the best headline.

State Sen. Wendy Davis has taken plenty of shots from conservatives for proposing new gun restrictions, but on Thursday she faced blowback from liberals and fellow Democrats over gun rights.

Sparking the fallout: Davis’ embrace of so-called open-carry laws, which would allow Texans to pack pistols on their hips. Under current law, people licensed to carry handguns must keep them concealed.

Not even Leticia Van de Putte and Gilberto Hinojosa are standing with Wendy on this one.

While the position essentially mirrors the stance on open carry taken by her likely Republican opponent, Attorney General Greg Abbott, it puts at her odds with statements from her own Texas Democratic Party and her fellow senator, Leticia Van De Putte of San Antonio, the Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor.

Van De Putte looked flummoxed Thursday morning in a Texas Tribune interview when asked about the revelation — reported overnight by The Associated Press — that Davis wanted to allow Texans to carry firearms in public.

“The discussions that I have had with the law enforcement back home, they think that open carry does not make their job any easier, and I’m with them,” Van De Putte said. “This is one where Wendy and I are on a different page.”

Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa also said he did not support open carry, but noted that many Democrats in Texas are members of the National Rifle Association and have been strong supporters of expanding gun rights here.

“We’re not in favor of it,” he said. “The position that we’re taking at the Democratic Party today, we don’t think that promotes the safe use of weapons in Texas." Hinojosa said Davis could lose support from some gun control advocates, but he predicted liberals would keep up their “intensity” for her campaign because they’re more concerned with bread-and-butter issues such as education and health care.

Probably the worst disfavor she did herself is that she simultaneously deflated her base while aggravating the conservatives and gun nuts who refuse to believe her.  Just read some of the comments here.

Privately, though, some of Davis’ top supporters said they were caught off guard and disappointed by her embrace of a position that has in the past sparked divisions even among traditional supporters of strong or expanded gun rights.

And it seemed doubtful that Davis would attract much support from pro-gun groups.

There's a lot of people outside Texas who were ready to write checks that aren't going to do so now.  They don't understand the culture of the Lone Star State, and certainly not the subculture of guns and Texas.  More importantly, they don't want to.

Sidebar: I own a few guns -- a .22 rifle my father bought me at the GI Surplus in Beaumont when I was 12, a 20 gauge shotgun I bought from a friend in high school, a Ruger .38 caliber revolver that I traded another high school friend a broken-down motorcycle for, and a 9mm Glock I bought at a Pasadena gun show about 8-10 years ago.  (I was judging the Labor Day BBQ contest with the AFL-CIO and the gun show was going on simultaneously.  So I cruised on in and looked around with some guys, and whoops there it was.  How often are you going to see that, after all?  At core, I'm just East Texas white trash.)

See, Wendy Davis grew up fairly poor, and lived in a trailer park for awhile; I'm sure she knows something about guns.  So this bit about open carry doesn't come as so much of a shock or surprise to me.

But it's a dealbreaker for lots and lots of Democrats inside and outside Texas, many of whom are to the right of me otherwise politically.  For my part, I would like to be a more idealistic peace-loving Green, but I just can't fully commit. (It's sort of like being a conflicted carnivore.)  You can't win any revolutions without some firearms, and muskets and balls are a little out of style.

I just don't think Thomas Jefferson was joking around when he pushed it up to the Second Amendment.

Yet... I favor gun legislation of almost all kinds, especially on the assault weapon-variety.  I do NOT have a CHL because I believe that law enforcement -- even the lousiest of Texas cops, HPD -- should be the only people licensed to carry, concealed or unconcealed.  I am confident that is enough to keep me safe in public places.  I am most certainly not in favor of weapons being brandished, or strapped, or hidden in boots like Jerry Patterson.

In your home, under lock and key. At the range, or in the field.  All individuals handling them properly safety-trained (with continuing education courses for all, including children).  So hopefully that clarifies my position on open carry; absolutely not.  I'm not interested in living in the American version of Somalia, or Afghanistan, or Iraq, in spite the TXGOP's headlong rush to get us there.

I realize this makes me a confounding dichotomy among most every single progressive and conservative.  Too bad for them; gun-totin' liberals are here, we've always been here, get used to it.  But back to Wendy Davis.

I consider this to be the most colossal fuckup to date by the Davis campaign.  It suggests that someone outside Texas -- with no understanding of the previously-referenced Texas culture -- advised her poorly.  But even if that was the case, she should not have taken that advice.  At the very least, she should have exercised her political sixth sense and deferred this disclosure -- especially if it represents her beliefs and not some political calculation -- to after the primary election.  This rationale is almost precisely why she has been so hard to pin down specifically about gay marriage, and also why Greg Abbott has not outlined any specific policy proposals ... except for a border wall with armed guards and a moat and alligators and boiling oil.

He's not going after any Democratic primary crossover voters with that.

I'm pretty sure that everybody understands that Davis, contrary to the perpetual Republican whining, is no liberal.  She has voted Republican in the past, she is in law practice with a former GOP state legislator chief of staff of Rick Perry's, that practice does a lot of corporate work, she's advocated for safe water for the frackers, etc.  Even most Democrats understand that this is, sadly, the only kind of Democrat that stands a chance of getting elected in Texas.  Until non-voters who lean Democratic start showing up to vote, the Republicans aren't going to moderate themselves.  Once some Democrats get elected, then you focus on getting more.  Once you have more, you focus on better Democrats.

Texas Democrats have spent a couple of decades just trying to get one elected, without success, as everybody knows.  James Moore summarizes the brutal truth for Sen. Davis.

She's lost my vote with this Open Carry crap. I believe in the Second Amendment and have never felt the conceal carry legislation was as dangerous as portrayed. People have a right to guns. People also have a right to not get shot by guns. We even have what seems a moral right to go into a public place and not have to wonder if the guy wearing the .45 in his holster and swilling beer is not going to get pissed about something inane and clear his leather and start firing. A person entering a room wearing a holstered gun in open view completely changes the entire dynamics of that room without any real purpose.

I can't vote for Greg Abbott. And this makes it impossible for me to vote for Wendy Davis. I know politics is all about compromise. I've been around a bit. I know we sometimes have to settle for not getting everything we want in a candidate. But there are some things I refuse to accept in a potential leader. Pandering to the right to support Open Carry Laws fits in that category.

I'm sitting out this Texas gubernatorial election. 

No reason to do that, James.  There's plenty of other candidates in the race for governor besides the Democrat or the Republican.  Your vote won't be wasted; undervoting at the top of the ballot is for suckers.

Moore isn't alone.  Davis is leaking base Democrats like John Coby, for example.  Neil Aquino wasn't ever one of those, but has some good advice for those who wish to pursue a course outside the box.  And Socratic Gadfly has been a harsher critic of the senator's starboard tack on other topics for some time now.

Davis should be talking about anything else but guns -- or fundraising, or minor discrepancies in her life story, or other hot-button social issues that Greg Abbott picks -- going forward.  There's plenty of topics that need elaboration: she needs to focus even more on education, the rights of women and minorities (actual conservative crossover appeals), and an economy where all Texans can lift themselves up, not just the greediest and the wealthiest.

But she may be out of chances to do that now.

This might represent the moment in the 2014 gubernatorial campaign that we look back on in November and observe that all hope was lost for Wendy Davis.  It might also represent a pivotal moment for Texas Greens, if they can step up and deliver the proper contrast to a corporate, conservative Democratic party in Texas that is just too Republican-lite for many Texans.  But they might begin by getting their candidate a website, or a Facebook page, or even an image of his visage online.

We'll just have to watch and see what happens.

Update: McBlogger, succinct. And Juanita Jean, straight up no chaser.

It is mid February.  If this campaign doesn’t get back on track soon, it’s over.  We’ve sacrificed another Democrat to a nonexistent “persuadable Republican,” when all we had to do is excite the base in urban areas and South Texas.

I feel sure her campaign is telling her, “What’s your base going to do?  Vote for Abbott?   They won’t do that because he’s worse for them than you are.”   No, they won’t vote for Abbott.  They just won’t vote and that is the worst thing you can do to Texas.


Unknown said...

The Greg Abbott boiling oil bit is sure to catch on in a Republican primary, and sooner rather than later.

Two weeks after that, the guy who is only suggesting boiling oil is going to be called a RINO by his opponents.

Gadfly said...

I had seen the first stories yesterday, but hadn't gotten around to blogging until now.

TOTALLY agreed with the Brandon Parmer observation. I've emailed Texas Greens and am putting the email link in my blog post.