Monday, July 15, 2013

Cover Woman

Sen. Wendy Davis is currently slated to be featured on the August cover of Texas Monthly.  It will cap a meteoric rise to state and national prominence since her June 25 filibuster and the chaotic conclusion of  the First Called Session.
The question is where does Sen. Davis go from here in 2014? Does she seek reelection to the Texas Senate, or does she run statewide?
Governor General Abbott appears unbeatable by Democrat or Republican.  Sen. Davis, as a Harvard-trained lawyer, could run for the open office of Texas Attorney General.  However, that does not appear to be a particularly exciting, nor necessarily winnable, down ballot matchup.
The marquee matchup would be to run for Lieutenant Governor, who serves as Presiding Officer of the Texas Senate.  A fierce contest has commenced for the Republican nomination, with Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst being challenged by Sen. Dan Patrick, Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson and Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples. Polling shows that today Lt. Gov. Dewhurst is headed towards a Republican primary runoff.
Harris County is the largest bloc of Republican voters in the state, and Sen. Patrick is well-known and very popular with these voters.  The margins Sen. Patrick will roll up in Harris County arguably could give him a spot in the runoff.  The purest of the pure partisans show up for primary runoffs, and those are more likely to be Sen. Patrick radio listeners (in Harris County) and voters.
This would bring us a Davis vs. Patrick contest for Lt. Governor in November 2014, a stark contrast indeed.  One of the most liberal senators vs. one of the most conservative; pro-choice vs. pro-life; woman vs. man; and, at this point, woman vs. a possibly all male Republican statewide slate.  One mistake by Sen. Patrick and Sen. Davis has a shot.
The irony is she would then preside over a Senate probably comprised of 20 Republicans and 11 Democrats – the Republicans would have an excellent opportunity to pick up Davis’ senate seat.  All of the Lt. Governor’s powers are derived from the rules of the Senate, which are adopted by a simple majority vote (16 out of 31).  Wouldn’t the Republicans simply strip her of these powers?
My crystal ball gets cloudy that far out.  But it wouldn’t matter from Davis’ perspective.  If they stripped her of the traditional powers of the office, it would simply magnify her prominence and amplify her voice.
My thinking has evolved.  I now believe it makes political sense for Sen. Davis to run statewide for Lt. Governor in 2014. As she hits the newsstands in August, look for #Wendymania to continue trending.

Update July 16:  Some readers perceived the original blog title of “Cover Girl” as disrespectful.  The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer defines cover girl as “An attractive woman whose photograph is featured on a magazine cover . . .”  The title was meant to be playful and catchy.  Nevertheless, perception is reality in politics.  I always strive to treat everyone with respect and to be cognizant of the feelings of others.  Accordingly, I have revised the title and sincerely apologize to any who were offended.