Wendy Davis already won over Austin Democrats.
Her task is to win Texas, and she went to work on that Saturday in a century-old Fort Worth landmark on the street where cowboys once drove cattle up the Chisholm Trail.
Campaigning among the south-side friends who backed her for 17 years in city and state offices, she said her state headquarters is here on frontier-era South Main Street because “all roads to [Austin] come through Tarrant County.”
“If you look at other urban counties, Tarrant County is the only one that hasn’t turned blue,” she said, standing in a mostly Republican Texas Senate District 10 that elected her anyway in 2008 and 2012.
She name-dropped familiar south-side haunts: Magnolia Avenue, Ellerbe Fine Foods, the Paris Coffee Shop and her late father’s groundbreaking theater company, Stage West.
Then she said she won the district in 2008 against “an entrenched incumbent who was out of touch with the needs of working families.”
The reference was to former state Sen. Kim Brimer, but the allusion was to the 20-year Republican judge, attorney general and now gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott.
“Pundits all over the state said there was no way we could win,” she said: “… We may hear the same thing from pundits in this race.”
Then she unreeled her regular campaign speech about how “Texas made a promise to me” in the form of a public education and junior college system that lifted her out of a modest, working-class Richland Hills upbringing.
After the speech, she said there was never any question that her headquarters, staff and estimated $40 million yearlong campaign would be based in Fort Worth instead of Austin, bringing an economic boost to the emerging South Main Street historic district.
“Of course I’m going to run from my hometown,” she said.
Then she answered a question about one of the news headlines lately in her hometown.
The sentence of a year in alcoholism treatment and 10 years of restricted probation for a 16-year-old found responsible in a deadly drunken-driving crash is a “disgrace,” she said, responding to a reporter.
“I hope this is not an outcome that we ever see again,” she said.
Asked whether Texas’ juvenile law system should put this much emphasis on rehabilitation for minors instead of detention, she said some “deserve to be punished.”
“An incident like that deserves punishment,” she said.
“I was very sorry to see that.”
One day after Abbott said he will “see if there is an angle” for the attorney general’s office to revisit the punishment, Davis was doubtful.
“I don’t know what can be done after the fact,” she said.
“We need to look at the law and see why judges make those decisions.”
Maybe that’s a campaign issue for the next governor.