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Democrats Not Racing to Stand With Wendy Davis

Wendy Davis
Kevin Sutherland

Highlights from Hair Balls

Political Animals

It's one thing to have the opposing party saying a candidate doesn't have a snowball's chance in hell (or a Democrat's chance in Texas), but when the candidate's own party signals it isn't so sure, now that has got to be awkward.

Case in point: State Senator Wendy Davis became a political superstar overnight after she staged a 12-hour filibuster in the state legislature to protest antiabortion legislation. She parlayed her pink-tennis-shoed stand into a run at the governor's seat, but in the past few months, her campaign has, well, stumbled (sorry, it had to be said.)

The campaign has been criticized for poor handling of the media (dubbed "media fail" by The Texas Observer), her polling numbers are not good and despite her recent assurances that she believed the polls don't show everything (which could be true; remember that Ann Richards had lousy numbers before she took the governor's seat in 1990) and that "something magical" would happen (less likely, unless she's keeping a magical wishing pony in reserve for November), national-level Democrats seem to be doubtful. The kind of doubtful that translates to them not giving money.

The big tip-off came last week when the head of the Democratic Governors Association, Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin, announced the list of races the association is focused on this election season. Davis's race against Abbott wasn't on the list, and this being the world of politics, that means something and it's nothing good. "We all understand Democrats haven't won Texas in a long time," Shumlin said when asked why Texas wasn't on the list, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Davis's camp didn't take kindly to being both dissed and dismissed by its own party. Davis campaign manager Karin Johanson told the San Antonio Express-News that "the uninformed opinions of a Washington, D.C., desk jockey who's never stepped foot in Texas couldn't be less relevant to what's actually happening on the ground." So yeah, Davis's people were not pleased.

Opponent Greg Abbott isn't coming through campaign season unscathed — he's been associated with the likes of Ted Nugent and has pretty much done the opposite of denounce Cliven Bundy after the rancher's big racist moment recently, plus his ideas on education are drawn from Charles Murray, an accused white supremacist who advocates college only for a select group of people, according to the Austin Chronicle — but Abbott is still polling way ahead of Davis. It doesn't take a fortune-teller to divine that things aren't going well for those hoping to see a Democrat in the governor's seat for the first time in more than 20 years.

Of course, this doesn't entirely mean it's over for Davis — there are months to go before the election and there could still be a Richards-esque upset that no one sees coming — but, in the immortal words of someone or other, it sure doesn't look good.
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Bayou Body Count

Dead in Dough
Police investigating death at fortune cookie company.

Camilo Smith

On a recent Sunday afternoon, Houston police responded to a call about a dead body found inside an industrial mixer at the Houston branch of the Wonton Food company. They make those fortune cookies you get at Asian food places. Wonton, which has a huge factory in New York and others across the country, is actually known around the world as one of the leading providers of fortune cookies. It also makes other Asian food under the Golden Bowl brand.

Elmer Oscar Barrera suffered multiple blunt force injuries, according to Tricia Bentley of the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences. His death has been classified an accident.

"The victim, an employee of the Wonton Food Corporation at [2902 Caroline], was operating an industrial dough mixer. A fellow employee found the man deceased in the machine," police said in a statement.

No details were available on the kind of industrial mixer potentially involved in this death, but we're assuming it was of the type used at most large-scale factories. However, the company's Houston plant isn't as large as its others, according to ­Flavorandfortune.com.

Wonton Food makes more than four million of the folded crisp cookies a day in its Brooklyn factory and a smaller number at its Houston plant. All of its manufacturing is automated, with the exception of one line. This allows many parts of the process to be done manually so that small numbers of fortune cookies can be made with special messages. Another reason for the small production is to allow fortune cookies to be made in unusual flavors such as chocolate, rum, pineapple, etc.

Police said there was no foul play suspected.

The company hadn't had any dust-ups with the Occupational Safety & Health Administration in recent years. And according to the employment site Glassdoor.com, Wonton Food offered its employees free lunch. We're hoping the claim on the ­website of no vacation or sick days for 15 months was an overstatement.


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