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What will Wendy Davis do next?

As of 6:53 a.m. Central Time on Wednesday, 5,390 people liked this statement on Facebook:

“Friends, I know you haven’t heard from me recently. As you may know, my father passed away earlier this month. He meant so much to me and I know he will be missed terribly by so many people whose lives he touched. Truly, he was a magical person. This has undoubtedly been a hard time for my family, but even in our darkest moments, we’ve seen the best there is in all the people around us. The support that has poured in has been nothing short of incredible. My family and I appreciate every single thought and prayer. We’ll be getting back to business in short order, but I wanted to take this moment to say thank you, from the bottom of my heart.”

The statement was posted on the Facebook page of Texas Sen. Wendy R. Davis (D-Fort Worth), and on Oct. 3, she will have more to say about her political future.  She had held off making a statement this month about whether she will seek the governor’s office because of the illness and passing of her father Jerry Russell.

According to The Texas Tribune, an e-mail release that initially was embargoed until 9 a.m. Wednesday leaked and was instead released late Tuesday, shortly before midnight. Davis told supporters in the e-mail:  “There’s one question I’ve gotten quite often in the past few months. I’ve heard it online, while I’m traveling around the state, from the media and in my Fort Worth neighborhood: What’s next?”

Lone Star Project Inauguration Celebration

What’s next, indeed. If the Democrat announces her bid for governor, which many political observers believe she will, she already faces jabs from the Texas GOP as it attempts to frame its image of her. For example, Dave Carney, a top political adviser for Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, came under fire Sept. 12 for tweeting “Total Recall in CO (and why Wendy Davis is too Stupid to be Governor).” Abbott, a Republican who announced this summer that he’s running for governor, distanced himself from the tweet on Monday. But in August, Abbott himself was the focus of a Twitter-related offense. He thanked a supporter who called Davis “Retard Barbie.”


And that’s just the beginning. If Davis decides to run, she will be a Democrat seeking the governor’s office in what has been Rick Perry Country for forever and a day. (OK, the sitting Republican governor has served since December 2000.) Former Houston Mayor Bill White unsuccessfully tried to claim the governor’s seat for Democrats in 2010.

Davis will have to raise an out-of-this-world war chest to face Abbott, and she’ll have to prove to voters who don’t support abortion that she has more to offer than a filibuster moment protesting abortion restrictions. She also will have to persuade voters that she has what it takes to bring a fuller, more tangible prosperity to more Texas residents. Perry has wooed corporation after corporation to the state, but the wealth isn’t always passed around.

In fact, a U.S. Census report released on Tuesday says that Texas ranked eighth in the country for poverty in 2012. The report says that 17.2 percent of Texans lived in poverty. The census also reports that nearly 25 percent of Texas residents didn’t have health care — outdistancing the national average of 15.4 percent.

Those stats alone could underscore why Davis should run. If she announces her candidacy on Oct. 3, it will be three days after the first open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act begins.

Davis will need an arsenal of unforgettable one-liners and jaw-dropping, campaign trail victories to spar effectively with the GOP across the state. For example, Abbott says things like: “I go into the office, I sue the federal government, and then I go home.” And it works — for his supporters.

More than likely, Davis will deliver more statements like “stop demonizing women,” which was her push-back to statements made by Perry. And what will be her political tone? How about relentlessly practical and even hip? Likewise, expect her supporters to inundate Twitter with posts accompanied by #StandWithWendy and #RunWendyRun.

So what will Wendy Davis do? If the supporters who posted way-early Wednesday on her Facebook page are any indication, it’s clear what choice they, and famished Democrats in Texas who haven’t won a statewide race since 1994, desperately want her to make.



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Joann Weiner · September 17, 2013

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