Is Wendy Davis ready for a bigger stage?

Posted Wednesday, Jun. 26, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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kennedy For state Sen. Wendy Davis, daughter of a stage director, her Tuesday soliloquy stirred matinee-idol talk about a potentially dramatic run for governor.

With more than 90,000 viewers watching worldwide on YouTube and stars like Lena Dunham and Julianne Moore egging her on via Twitter, Davis took the Capitol floor to filibuster an abortion bill only two hours after the U.S. Supreme Court made her return to the Senate unlikely.

Davis has said only that she’ll run for re-election. But depending on what Gov. Rick Perry and Attorney General Greg Abbott do with old and new election maps, she might find more support running statewide, particularly with national Democrats pushing her to help nudge Texas from red toward blue.

If Perry steps down to focus on a 2016 presidential campaign, the likely Republican nominee is Abbott, one of the party’s staunchest opponents of abortion, even in cases of rape or incest.

An Abbott-Davis race for governor would win Texas Democrats more attention. And more votes.

But the question is whether she could win.

“The biggest question is whether Democrats are really ready to compete statewide,” Southern Methodist University political science professor Matthew Wilson said in an email.

Eight months before the March primary, no prominent Democrat is running at any level in an election where all statewide offices will be on a ballot led by U.S. Senate and congressional seats, not a presidential campaign.

“There’s not a lot of value in just being the party’s latest sacrificial lamb,” Wilson wrote, adding that although Abbott would have an edge, “a Davis candidacy would make things livelier than they’ve been in a while.”

Rice political science department Chairman Mark P. Jones, who has written for the online Texas Tribune about the more-purple-than-red nature of Texas government, was much more emphatic.

Davis would have “no chance whatsoever,” he said in an email, describing a campaign where Abbott would campaign against Washington Democrats without Perry’s baggage or history of missteps.

A campaign might tarnish her future and also get in the way of San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro’s hopes, Jones wrote.

Even the filibuster video will be used against her in a state where most voters oppose abortion, he wrote.

It’s tough doing a one-woman show.

Bud Kennedy’s column appears Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays. 817-390-7538 Twitter: @BudKennedy Get alerts at

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