Texas gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis has been walking a fine line since she became a political star last summer. Davis is trying to become the first Democrat to be elected to statewide office since 1994, and that's no easy task. But if you think Davis plans on steering clear of the president when he comes to town next month, you've got another think coming.
Democrats are gaining some ground in Texas, and people are actually predicting the reliably red Lone Star State will actually be in play in the coming years. But that's in the future. To be a Texas Democrat with a snowball's chance in hell of being elected today, you've got to play to the center, the people who want their guns and their abortion clinics and who might vote Democrat in the booth but hate the guy who is the head of the party, President Barack Obama. In some states, the president's support would be seen as nothing but a good thing, but here it's tricky.
One time a few years back we were at a campaign event for Bill White, Houston's own former mayor, when he was running for governor. It was Obama's first term in office and the president was making the rounds in the state. While Gov. Rick Perry was on hand to receive the president, White was nowhere to be seen. In fact, he just so happened to have a campaign event in West Texas, as far from the president and association with the president as he could get. We asked him that day if the president's presence in the state and White's presence as far from Austin as he could get were related. "Nope," he said, continuing to shake hands and grin.
That was years ago. Since then Obama's popularity hasn't exactly increased around here. However, while some might be all set to dodge the president, Davis has already announced that she's all set to be on hand to greet him when he arrives in Austin next month.
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And since then Davis has become a household name after she staged a filibuster in the state legislature in an attempt to stop the state from putting anti-abortion legislation in place. It was a virtuoso performance, and while the legislation was eventually passed, Davis had made herself a household name and there were rumblings of a run for governor within hours of the filibuster.
In the past year she's tried to prove she can be both a Texan and a Democrat, posing with guns while sticking to her views on abortion and pro-choice rights. Considering she needs a lot of people to like her enough to vote for her and potentially vote across party lines come November, it would have been understandable for her to do a little dodging so she wouldn't be too associated with Obama. That's not Davis's style.
She announced on Thursday that not only will she look forward to seeing Obama and the other ex-presidents in April when they are slated to speak about civil rights at the Lyndon B. Johnson presidential library in Austin, but she'll be on hand at the airport to greet him, according to USA Today. She also told the Texas Tribune that she's not at all worried about being photographed with the president.
It's an interesting approach, and probably a smart one since she's a Democrat and he's the head of her party. Besides, just now Davis may have bigger problems than looking too friendly with Obama -- she secured her party's nomination in the primaries, but she lost a number of border counties, which isn't a good sign. Besides, all told, White didn't get his photo taken with the president when he was running for governor, but he also didn't get elected.