Thursday, August 15, 2013

It's not just about Wendy any more

Bless her heart (and I don't mean it in that condescending southern Christian way, either).

In just a few weeks, the Wendy Davis phenomenon has grown exponentially. She is no longer just a rising star in the Democratic Party constellation. She has risen. Democrats in Washington, in Texas and around the nation, marshaled by female activists, are clamoring for her to run for governor in 2014 — no matter that her chances of winning are slim in a state that has not elected a Democratic chief executive in more than 20 years. 

I think she's more like a supernova.

“I want Wendy Davis to run for governor,” Senator Kirsten E. Gillibrand of New York told me on Friday. Ms. Gillibrand, who won re-election by a landslide last November, is undeterred by speculation that Ms. Davis cannot win in Texas. She believes that even if Ms. Davis were to lose the race, she would still command a big platform in the nation’s second-largest state, one that would reverberate nationwide, to discuss tough issues like women’s reproductive health, abortion rights, education, jobs and the middle class. “She will elevate the conversation.” 

2014 is finally going to be the Year of the Woman (or female political candidate, as it were).

See, the thing is that Sen. Davis simply cannot say she's not going to run for governor now. She's being compelled to run -- pulled to it by forces within both political parties. The Republican insider POV...

(T)he real winner of Sen. Davis’ decision to run for Governor are Texas Democrats. Without her, they have no credible statewide candidate in 2014. With her, they will likely find other credible Democrats willing to step out and run statewide. She will also provide a race that Battleground Texas, the Obama campaign’s effort to turn Texas blue, can organize around. Finally, she will likely boost Democratic turnout in urban counties such as Dallas and Harris helping down ballot Democrats running for county and judicial offices.

Sen. Davis’ race for Governor is a win for Texas Democrats. It remains to be seen whether it will ultimately be a win for Sen. Davis.

Now I doubt whether Robert Miller has any good Democratic insider information about a decision Wendy Davis has not made yet and won't make for a few more weeks. But he has read the tea leaves accurately in this case. More...

And regardless of whether she wins in 2014, Texas Democrats will be happy to have Davis at the top of their ticket, says Ross Ramsey at The Texas Tribune. They are mostly hoping that she has "some political magic, and that it's contagious" — that the presence of a relatively famous, beloved-by-Democrats candidate for governor will draw other credible candidates statewide and "attract voters who might influence other races below the statewide level."

The "pundits and other self-appointed experts" are hoping Davis jumps in, too, Ramsey adds. "For sheer political theater, a governor's race that includes Davis would be a lot more interesting than one with a very well-financed Republican candidate and no Democrats, which is what the ballot looks like now."

Even Republicans seem kind of excited about the prospect of Davis running for governor. She isn't very popular in GOP circles, and the idea of defeating her must hold some appeal.

We're past the point of no return. For there to be any kind of immediate future for Texas Democrats, she can't take a pass. Davis bears the weight of the entire Texas Democratic Party, some of the burden of other beleaguered Democrats in southern states, and by extension a small portion of the national party's 2014 electoral prospects. That is one heavy lift.

As the saying goes, Democrats have to fall in love with a candidate (while Republicans just fall in line), and everybody loves Wendy. If she decides she's not going to go for it and run for re-election to her state Senate seat instead, all the helium screams out of her balloon. And everybody else's, for that matter. Greg Abbott's bank account, a red-ass exurban/rural Texas, and salivating Republicans holding smears at the ready are the least of her concerns now. She sets Texas back another decade -- not to mention her own political prospects -- if she won't pick up the gauntlet.

There is officially too much at stake for her, Democrats, the state of Texas, and (yes, even) the nation if she chooses not to make a bid for the governor's mansion. I just don't see her backing away from that fight. That's not who she is, not who she has demonstrated herself to be.

It's fait accompli at this point.

Update: Thanks to Daily Kos and Crooks and Liars for helping spread the word. Back to you, Senator Davis.

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