November 08, 2013

#WendyDavis already pandering for moderate voters (updated)?

NOTE: This will be updated on a regular basis through the end of the campaign, with chronological updates at the end to reflect my ongoing take on Davis' continued efforts to "track right."

That said, that rhetorical question in the header?

My initial reaction is to say, it sure looks that way.

And, as of Nov. 7, and her dodging appearing with President Obama when he was in Texas, it largely appears that way to blogging compadre Brains and Eggs as well. Here's his "tell," down near the end:
Here's the deal, my Democratic friends: if Wendy Davis is going to follow the Angles' advice -- worse yet, if it's her natural inclination without needing encouragement --  and run a race like Bill White's except in heels and Mizunos, then she's going to get the same result.
Amen, brother, amen.

As for ducking Obama, he said here was the better advice:
Davis could have, instead, met the president in Dallas, said forcefully that when she is elected governor she'll expand Medicaid, that Ted Cruz and John Cornyn were wrong in blocking ACA, and that Greg Abbott represents a continuation of Rick Perry's cruel policies that leave millions of Texans sick and dying without healthcare coverage.
Bingo. And sell that to suburbanites living on the edge, as well as inner city and Valley folks.

I wrote the initial version of this blog post a month earlier, when Davis gave a "Texas exceptionalism" answer to the federal government shutdown, another example of doing like she did earlier this week. (And, the fact that she's not a Texas native makes the "Texas exceptionalism" even more barf-inducing.)

So, back to that original post.

Newly-official Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis, per the Texas Tribune, is giving a "tiptoe" answe on Tea Party inanity in DC. Tiptoing around around who's to blame for the federal government shutdown doesn't help her in my eyes.
 “People don’t want to see us getting into those kinds of squabbles,” Davis said when asked who should be blamed for the shutdown. “They want to see us doing the work that we’ve been elected to do. And Texas, I think, has done a better job of that. I know people don’t want to see us be Washington, D.C.”
Already pandering for independent voters, or what is up with this? Since this was given in Waxahachie, which is not just moderately "red" but very much so, it's hard to think anything else, especially since she hinted at that.
 “We want to hear from voices all over the state of Texas, and this campaign is about including all those voices,” she said. “That means going everywhere, having conversations with folks, not writing anyone off because of their partisanship.”
On the other hand, since we've seen, as is obvious to all but his most ardent fanboys and fangirls, how President Barack Obama became Just.Another.Politician.™,  but avoided doing that so quickly and so drastically so early in his campaign, Davis runs the risk of alienating swing voters of the type who are looking Green if there's not the best Democrats available.

People like me.

Also, as someone not native to this state, I really do not like the "we do that better in Texas" angle. It pretty much makes me want to barf.

Basically, it's the Texas version of American exceptionalism, and people most sympatico with my politically know exactly how I feel about that. In fact, she just inspired me to create a new blog tag to that end.

And, yes, Texas does do some things better. Under current management, Texas is best in:
  • Most death penalty executions;
  • Highest percentage of uninsured;
  • Highest percentage of minimum wage jobs.
And, that's just for starters. I mean, do you really, really, want to get into a pissing contest over whether Texas state governance is better than federal governance, without distinguishing between the two parties? 

(And, I'm not alone. A featured Kossack poster even agrees to fair extent!)

Anyway, on that last point, at least she's running for an in-state political office and not US Congresscriter or Senator.

And, even if Texas natives are "indoctrinated" about Texas exceptionalism in school as kids, theoretically, they can rise above it. 

Six hours down the road, and back home after my normal Saturday trip to Waco, I have six more issues (and counting) with Davis' "better job" statement.

First, this is the way Rick Perry has been sounding all the time for years, not just within Texas but when out of state on his job recruiting trips. If I want a governor who sounds like Rick Perry, I'll vote for Rick Perry, dammit.

Second, and related ... it's going to be harder to pin Rick Perry on Greg Abbott if you sound like Rick Perry.

Third, you know this is simply not true, Sen. Davis. You know it's not true based on how you were treated during your abortion filibuster.

Fourth, given that even some Republicans, at least up in DC, admit that they're more than halfway to blame on the shutdown, your statement looks transparent as hell in the level of pandering.

If you had truly had a bipartisan, or quasi-bipartisan issue, like Texas education, it would have been different.

Fifth, if this degree of pandering was accidental, rather than simply saying, "I'm running for governor, not senator," then you better put your adult britches on and get ready for the big show. Because if it was accidental (which I don't believe) you're not 100 percent ready for the big show yet.

Sixth, a lot of the moderate Republican voters that campaign analysts think you need to go after aren't Texas natives either. This "we do everything better in Texas" line may not grate on all of them as much as it does a left-liberal non-native Texan, but it has to be at least a little bit off-putting to at least a few. Not everybody now in Texas who wasn't born here "got here as fast as they could."

As for why I'm so seemingly harsh on her? I deliberately use the word "seemingly," by the way. It's for the same reasons I have strongly critiqued the Texas Democratic Party and Battleground Texas. No, I'm not expecting LBJ, or even Miss Ann, as the next non-Republican governor. But, I want somewhat reliably liberal, someone less blatanly political than the current occupant of the governor's mansion, and someone with more authenticity than him, too.

Her filibuster indicated she may (not guaranteed, but may well) have item three down. Item one, I've already wondered about, outside abortion and gay rights. Her Waxahachie speech has seriously brought item two into question, and made even item three a bit iffy.

That said, when she first announced her first candidacy for state senate, let's not forget that a lot of people thought she was a Republican. The Waxahachie event makes that easy to understand, for a wider audience. Also per that blog post, there's allegations of past conflicts of interest of Davis' law firm, which gets back to the Just.Another.Politician.™ issue.
Ms. Davis said that although her legal work has never presented a conflict, she would temporarily halt it if she ran for governor. And she says she would give it up altogether if she won. In the meantime, she said that she planned to ask her public-sector clients to waive attorney-client privilege so she can publicly name them. She had previously resisted calls to disclose her client list.
“What’s happened is there’s this big, ballooned story,” she said. “I think we can come to a way to describe the work we do and the compensation we’ve received.”
We're waiting. Don't make the public of Texas wait longer. 

Now, just one more point for now.

A lot of those legal conflicts of interest involved the North Texas Tollway Authority. Given that a lot of Texans are tired of TxDOT not being what it once was, and it and the Lege falling ever more on the idea of toll roads for highway development, especially urban bypasses.

How much of a fan of additional toll roads is she? And, will some A-list reporter think to ask this?

At the same time, she did, on the Fort Worth City Council, show an ability and activeness in occasionally being totally the opposite of that moniker. When will she show us that in a non-pandering way?

Were it not for her abortion filibuster, we'd never be at this point and Democrats would still be scrambling for a candidate. It's sad in a sense that the one Democrats have may still be a creature of the Bass family for all we know.

Also, methinks Davis may be falling victim to what many political candidates do: believing their constitutency is more conservative than actually is this case. That said, due to voting skewing due to age, and age generally tending to skew conservative and better off, voters, not constituents, may be almost that conservative, at least.

Solution? Getting younger people out to vote, though even Dear Leader, while good at it in 2008, wasn't fantastic.

Finally, thank doorknob the Green Party will have statewide ballot access in Texas next year. I'll have a choice when I vote. And, just as I have shown in multiple presidential elections, I have no problem voting Green, nor in encouraging others to do the same.

Update, Oct. 9: Jim Schutze thinks she's already done too much pandering to the right, namely on allegedly working with Dan Patrick on Senate Bill 5.

As I noted on my recent Craig Watkins blog post, Schutze is an ax-grinder. And, as part of this, he likes to oversimplify issues. SB 5 has its bad spots, no doubt. But, reducing the number of standardized tests, with at least the possibility of this reducing "teach to the test" issues is a good thing. So is any, any additional accountability for charter schools. And, that statement he cites doesn't list Patrick by name; fact is, per the Lege's website, the original bill version was reported unanimously out of both House and Senate education committees. And, the final, post-conference version of both bills was unanimously passed by both houses.

I do believe Davis will need to address education beyond just resting on her HB 5 laurels. Of course, she HAS NO laurels to rest on there, as she's not even listed as an official coauthor. Oops!

Which means Davis' website statement to which Schutze linked is a bunch of blather. And, that's the forest, Mr. Schutze, not the trees.

Update, Oct. 10: Supposedly, Sen. Davis is having a moneybomb today. I might tout such an idea here ... if somebody from her staff first admits that the Waxahachie speech was a screw-up. Until then, no.

Update, continuing: Finally, thank doorknob the Green Party will have statewide ballot access in Texas next year. I'll have a choice when I vote. And, just as I have shown in multiple presidential elections, I have no problem voting Green, nor in encouraging others to do the same. When I hear about a Green candidate for governor, I'll let you know.

Would I accept Davis over Greg Abbott? Yes, I would. From what I see so far, could I vote for her, if there's a Green candidate on the ballot? No. And, that's why I retweeted the URL for this post with the #GiveToWendy hashtag.

As I said before, told friends on Facebook, and more, she had easy ways to dodge the shutdown question, Texas exceptionalism aside. Her speech and stance there came off as a state-level version of standard modern Democratic neoliberalism. Until I see more to convince me otherwise, don't expect my enthusiasm.

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