Wendy Davis Is Sort of a Laura Miller Candidate. So How Did that Work Out?
The New York Times today contains what apparently is going to be a regular feature on how cool Wendy Davis is. Today's installment is called "Democrats see value in Texas in candidacy for governor." The one two weeks ago was, "Democrats see hope in Texas star." The one three days before that was "Democrats look to Wendy Davis as the charm."
See also: Is Wendy Davis Running for Governor?
Great. I love it. I heart her too. I can't wait for the next one. Wendy, Wendy, Wendy, as far as I'm concerned. Put her on Page One of the Times every damned day, but I'm still not sure of two things: 1) How does that get her elected governor of Texas? 2) Why does she want to be governor of Texas?
Well, three things, but I wasn't going to mention the third one. OK. Here goes. 3) She's really kind of a Laura Miller candidate.
Let's face it. Like Miller when she got elected mayor of Dallas, 90 percent of her appeal right now is based on factors that have absolutely nothing to do with her politics.
Miller, you will recall, was mayor of our city from 2002 to 2007. Before entering politics to run for city council in 1998, she was me -- ultra-liberal lefty pot-stirring columnist for the Dallas Observer. So does that mean I could get elected mayor?
Uh, no, it does not. One big reason? If I posed on a sofa wearing pearls and Laura Ashley, no one would take me for an upper-class Republican-looking person. Laura could pull that off, as Wendy Davis sort of can, also. Of course there was more to Miller than that.
Rob Allyn, the brilliant political ad man who ran Miller's first mayoral campaign, positioned her as an eat-your-peas couture-fashionable mother-type who would appeal to the basic civic-minded conservatism of white North Dallas voters who did not read the Observer and did not know squat about her before she ran. She already had the liberals ganged up behind her like lemmings.
Her opposition was a bunch of old rich white guys whose wives already resented them for living at the country club instead of at home. All they had to do was oblige by acting sexist and dismissive, which they did as if on cue, and Miller was over the top already.
The New York Times piece today about Davis contains this intriguing nugget:
"Researchers presented Ms. Davis with private polling that showed she was better known for her personality than for her positions. They also prepared an analysis of the nearly 900,000 Twitter messages in the 24 hours around her filibuster in June, which temporarily halted a bill to ban abortion in Texas after 20 weeks. A high percentage of those messages focused on her physical ordeal."
So she's a good-looking fashionably-dressed woman who is put upon by Texas lout-men. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with that. If it weren't for Texas women who are put off by louts, Rick Perry and the rest of them would have us all in forced labor camps by now.
So what, if anything, is wrong with Wendy Davis as potential savior of the Democratic Party? Well, for one thing, she's got the wrong color hair. I thought we all understood that the only real hope for turning Texas blue depends on the emerging Hispanic electorate. So why wouldn't we run somebody Hispanic? Doesn't that make sense?
And, actually ... just hold off one second on the pitchforks, will you? OK, fine. Hair color was my bad. The Times piece points to another more fundamental issue:
"Mark P. Jones, chairman of political science at Rice University, said the two demographic groups that Ms. Davis needs most, white women and Hispanics, disagree with her by wide margins on the issue she is best known for: opposition to a ban on abortion after 20 weeks."
That's a better issue than the hair, right? But they're both sort of the same thing: Beneath the showboat appeal generated by her brave filibuster during the abortion debate in the Texas Senate, a real chasm lies between Davis and the voters the Democratic Party most needs to mobilize in order to take back Texas. If that happens, it's not going to be a case of Molly Ivins rising from the grave, more likely someone like Raphael Anchia stepping to the fore.
I had another question. Oh, yeah: Why does she want to be governor? Miller was able to fool North Dallas into thinking she was a Republican, but what good did it do her when she became mayor? She had to wear a cone-hat and sit on the stool in the corner for most of her tenure, because nobody on the City Council was fooled for a minute.
Davis has a whole lot more political experience than Miller did, as well as a different life-history. But if she did win she'd still wind up sitting down there in Austin with a building full of cross-eyed, foot-washing, Tea Party mouth-breathers trying to out-lout each other all day long. What's the future in that?
I get that she's what Democrats have got. I get that they're thrilled to have anything at all. And I'm sorry, but somewhere in this I smell misadventure. Now or later. And she does have the wrong damn hair. Hey, I've got a pitchfork, too, so bring it on, Teapies.