SocraticGadfly: Does Wendy Davis have a Tony Sanchez problem?

September 11, 2013

Does Wendy Davis have a Tony Sanchez problem?

What looked like a halo, per Jim Schutze, after her filibuster, could become
a spotlight for Wendy Davis if she decides to run for governor and the state
GOP turns up the heat on her political past — Marina Lewis/Texas Tribune
Or more than one?

Like voting in a GOP primary as recently as 2006? Like giving money to a GOP candidate that same year?

Via Jim Schutze, that's exactly what she did, among other things, according to the Texas Tribune. The story's nearly two weeks old, but it still has items worth noting, at least to me, and perhaps to you. Worth noting to me because I wasn't aware of all of this until now:
In 2007, Ms. Davis set her sights on the Texas Senate. When her name popped up, though, many wondered what party Ms. Davis belonged to. She had voted in Republican primaries in 1996, 1998 and 2006, and Ms. Davis had also given at least $1,500 to United States Representative Kay Granger, a Fort Worth Republican, campaign finance records show. 

“When I first put my hat in the ring, several very tried-and-true and loyal Democratic activists from our community said, “What? She’s not a Democrat. She’s a Republican,’ ” Ms. Davis recalled. “I took that as a compliment, you know, that people didn’t necessarily know what my ideology might be because I wasn’t driven by that.” 
Note that 2006 was the most recent election before she decided to run. Note also her non-ideology comments.

And, look further at the story for other things.

Texas Dems, be careful.

You could be nominating nothing other than a better-looking Bill White, if that's a better analogy, or a less painful one, than Tony Sanchez.

And, the Texas Democratic Party, Davis herself, and individual Democrats who are Davis fanboys or fangirls, per Schutze, had better be prepared for the GOP bombardment on these and other issues. And, there's other issues listed in the story. Like her potential legal conflicts of interest, detailed in another Tribune story.

One or the other, either the neoliberalism at the state level, for lack of a better term, or apparent, and in part of the cases, I think, actual legal conflicts of interest would be dicey. Both?

Uhh, to put it this way, right now, I don't think I'd vote for her in a general unless she showed herself to be more ideological on more issues than abortion, at least.

At the same time, in a piece comparing her to former Dallas mayor Laura Miller, Schutze says that being too ideological on that one issue could actually hinder her crossover vote appeal. And, per what I've blogged as a warning to Texas Democrats not to lean too much on a possibly slender read of Hispanic demographics, I think he's right.

I want to know what she thinks about organized labor issues, about environmental issues, about how to adequately fund education and other state services, and how to honestly sell that, just as a starter. Given the amount of money she has gotten in the past from members of the oil-soaked Bass family, the environmental issue is an important one. Yes, she fought for better mineral lease deals for Fort Worth minorities on gas fracking, but what's she think about the environmental problems of fracking in general, for example?

At the same time, while the voting information, the Bass money, and the legal connections are all real and documented by the Trib, on Schutze's own stuff, you have to remember he's even more of a contrarian, and a more willful one, than I am.

But, I'm going to go back to the Tony Sanchez analogy.

Let's say Davis were not currently a state senator.

Instead, let's say her law firm also managed the hypothetical Sid Bass Charitable Trust and the Bass Family Foundation.

Let's say that she had voted in the GOP primary in 2012. And given money to Kay Granger. (More on this below.)

Then, let's say, as a private citizen with deep pockets connections to both Republicans and Democrats, she organizes a rally against the abortion restrictions bill at the Capitol.

Some Democrats note that she's friends with other Democrats as well as Republicans and that she's made campaign contributions to Democrats. They don't originally notice that she voted GOP in the most recent primary, but they eventually find out.

Would you be that gung-ho about her candidacy?

Per PDiddie's comment below, I was in Dallas in 2008, and had enough local politics to follow on that side of the Metromess, including the mayor pro tem of Cedar Hill, where I newspapered at the time, already announcing plans to seek the GOP nomination for Dallas County Judge. Between that, and fracking issues entering that part of Dallas County, I wasn't playing close attention to details of fracking in Tarrant County or the rise of Wendy Davis.

So, maybe the Democratic Party is that desperate. That said, partisan Democrats, beyond the abortion filibuster, can you name one significant liberal accomplishment of Davis in the state senate?

Per Joshuaism, my one great-grandfather used to do that deliberate crossing of party lines in primaries for just that reason. But, per the bits I knew about Davis before, what the Trib story added, and what PDiddie added, that would be a very generous interpretation of Davis' voting motives, in light of everything else.

Just as big a question might be:

"Dear Wendy Davis: When you decided to run for the Texas Senate, given your past history, why did you run as a Democrat rather than a Republican?"

Meanwhile, a University of Houston political science claims that Davis may just have a shot. Off the Kuff and Brains and Eggs report generally favorably, but I'm still somewhat in the Jim Schutze camp on thinking a strong pro-choice stance could actually drive away suburban white women swing voters, at least if it's far and away the top talking point.. Even if GOP misogyny is on the rise, a lot of GOP-leaning suburban white women are still comfortable enough with it that Davis will still have an uphill row to hoe unless she develops a platform on other issues. Like education, which is ripe for the picking.

On the other hand, both Schutze and I could be wrong. Kuff cites a UT political scientist, James Henson, with this:
One reason to think that suburban women might be part of an electoral solution for the Democrats: They haven’t been swept up in the conservative ideological surge personified by the Tea Party. Between October 2010 and June 2013, conservative identification decreased from 49 percent to 38 percent among these women.  ...

But opposition to her is far from unanimous among women, in part because suburban women are some of the biggest supporters of abortion rights in the Texas electorate: 45 percent think that abortion should be allowed in all circumstances as a matter of personal choice. This is a big gap compared with 38 percent of all Texas women and 36 percent of Texans generally — and only 13 percent of Republicans of both genders.
On the third hand, that last graph shows just how purplish sububs of the Texas Triangle's main cities have become. Note that Henson doesn't sort out suburban white women, suburban GOP leaners or anybody else. Still seems a thinnish reed.

Back to one thing in parentheses up above.

And, that's the campaign contribution TO Granger. Dems taking money from GOP-leaning individuals or companies is one thing, though bad enough. A would-be Democrat giving money TO a Republican? Whole nother matter. And, this was a Congresscritter, not a county commissioner or something.

And, while Granger isn't a tea partier, she's definitely, for today's House GOP, a middle-of-the-road conservative. Her Wikipedia page notes that she touts this, and was touting it already back in 2003, apparently, thus removing any "she's changed" excuse from Davis.

Another way to put this is that Granger's never faced a serious tea party primary-ing, neither in 2010 or 2012.

Rather than foreshadowing a consensus seeker or aisle-crosser, it makes her look like a conservative Democrat at worst, or a neoliberal at best, or someone two footsteps to the left of Granger, but not any more.. It also makers her look, just as does our Neoliberal-in-Chief, like Just.Another.Politician.™

Now, Granger is pro-choice. That's the only reason I can figure Davis cut her a check. But, that makes my other concern even starker — that Davis is only that liberal on one liberal-libertarian issue, abortion. I'm not a single-issue voter, and as I've said elsewhere, though reproductive choice, both in and of itself and as a marker for larger issues of sexual equality and more, is important, it's not the No. 1 issue on my book. (Income equality would be, followed by income and job security, followed by environmentalism in general and global warming in particular.)

In fact, the Granger support issue, and the likely reason why, is sticking in my craw enough I may do a separate blog post just about this if Davis' Oct. answer is "yes."


I also didn't realize that Julian Castro had a NAFTA problem, among other things, too.
A Democrat, Castro is a pragmatist, sometimes unpredictably so. He supports free trade, including the North American Free Trade Agreement, advocates an energy policy that includes fossil fuels, believes in balanced budgets and refers to David Souter as his ideal Supreme Court justice. Like a large plurality of his fellow San Antonians, Castro is a Roman Catholic, but he was the first San Antonio mayor to be grand marshal when he marched in the annual gay rights parade, and he is pro-choice.
Like a typical Clintonian neoliberal — safely liberal-to-libertarian on a hot button social issue or two, and that's it.

Per Peter Beinart, if he's right, when will Democrats start listening to younger, more liberal voices?


PDiddie said...

She's been a big supporter of the frackers for years.

She is not -- by her own admission and by her record -- a big liberal or even a partisan Democrat.

But she's the only chance the Democrats have, so they are going to keep praying she runs.

joshuaism said...

Aw hell, in suburban and rural Texas voting in a Republican primary is often the only way to get any say in who gets elected into office.

Someone needs to look at the ballots in 96, 98, and 06 and see if there were any reasons not to ignore the Democratic primaries in order to protect public office from the worst alternatives presented by the Republican party.