Sen. Wendy Davis gets more material to read during her seventh hour of filibustering during the final day of the Texas Legislature's special session. (Click to see a photo gallery.) (Louis DeLuca/Staff Photographer)
Celebrating Labor Day with local leaders, state Sen. Royce West issued a final plea for the AFL-CIO’s outgoing financial secretary, Jim McCasland.
“We need you to help Wendy Davis become governor of the state of Texas,” he declared, prompting hundreds of fellow Democrats to roar with approval.
Minutes later, U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson had the prospect of a Davis campaign for governor on her mind.
“I don’t know what Wendy Davis will do,” the Dallas Democrat said. “We need a full ticket, somebody in every slot. It should be a diverse ticket and appeal to every part of the state.”
Democrats are giddy about the prospect of Davis running for governor.
Since her dramatic filibuster that delayed passage of an anti-abortion bill, the Democratic senator from Fort Worth has become the great hope for a party trying to emerge from statewide obscurity. She’s raised a load of campaign cash. Democratic operatives hope an earnest campaign for governor could generate over $40 million dollars.
That alone makes her a contender against Attorney General Greg Abbott, who has to win a GOP primary for governor against former Texas Republican Party Chairman Tom Pauken.
Though Democrats want Davis to become the first Democratic governor since Ann Richards in 1990, her candidacy offers them much more.
Davis would be a gift to local down-ballot candidates across the state, and that could be important in mid-term elections where Republicans tend to have better results.
Take 2010. In Dallas County Republicans came within 5,000 votes of beating incumbent District Attorney Craig Watkins and ran close to Democrat Clay Jenkins, the winner of the county judge contest.
And in critical Texas House races, Republicans were able to reverse the gains Democrats made in 2008. They did so even thought their ticket topper, Gov. Rick Perry, was the poorest performer on the ballot.
Some Democrats had hoped to get more out of their slate leader, former Houston Mayor and gubernatorial candidate Bill White.
But White angered some Democrats by snubbing President Barack Obama during a 2010 swing through Texas. White didn’t meet the president at any of his stops, presumably because he wanted to appeal to business Republicans who were anti-Obama. The move, some say, suppressed Democratic turnout.
A Davis candidacy could bring out more base Democrats and even independent voters.
That would mean an easier time for Dallas County Democrats in the 2014 general elections.
For their part, Republicans hope that Abbott generates more local energy than Perry.
Davis is more than a potential candidate for governor. She could have coattails not seen on a Texas Democrat since Richards.
That’s why you’ll continue to hear Democrats chant: “Run, Wendy. Please run.”
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