Wendy Davis hires veteran Democratic operative to oversee campaign

Posted Sunday, Oct. 27, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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After a nationwide search, State Sen. Wendy Davis of Fort Worth will tap veteran Democratic strategist Karin Johanson to run her race for Texas governor, her campaign announced Sunday.

Johanson managed Sen. Tammy Baldwin’s successful 2012 campaign in Wisconsin and was executive director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee when her party took control of the House of Representatives in the 2006 midterm elections. The $11.5 million effort was one of the largest congressional voter turnout operations ever, covering 36 congressional districts.

“Karin has proven that she can win tough races. She has taken on and beaten a full arsenal of failed leadership, despite millions in negative ads,” Davis spokesman Bo Delp said. “Karin will be an excellent and outstanding addition to this historic and exciting campaign. We are honored that Karin will be joining us as we continue our fight to make the promise of Texas available to all families.”

Johanson is a former chief of staff and spokeswoman for House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland and has been a consultant at the Dewey Square Group. In 2004 she was director of America Coming Together, a campaign turnout operation. She has also been a strategist for Emily’s List, which is dedicated to electing Democratic women to office.

In 2006, The Washington Post described Johanson as “one of those people whose names you never hear, a political junkie who has been toiling in the backwaters of Democratic politics for more than 30 years — and one who is playing a huge role in the party's efforts to regain the House.”

The announcement comes a little more than three weeks after Davis formally launched her bid for governor.

Davis gained national fame — and notoriety — from a June filibuster geared toward preventing a comprehensive abortion bill from passing. That led Democrats throughout the state to encourage her to try to reclaim the Governor’s Mansion, which hasn’t housed a Democrat since Ann Richards left in 1995.

Davis’ candidacy pits her against Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott and former Republican Party Chairman Tom Pauken, the two main GOP candidates, who jumped into the race after Gov. Rick Perry announced that he won’t seek another term.

Abbott, considered the front-runner, has been attorney general since 2002 and enjoys strong support from both the mainstream Texas GOP and conservative grassroots groups.

This report includes material from Star-Telegram archives and The Associated Press.

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