September 16, 2014

#WayneSlater vs #WendyDavis — does a rainmaker need an umbrella?

Wendy Davis signed copies of her memoir "Forgetting to
Be Afraid" at Austin's BookPeople bookstore last week.
(Eric Gay/The Associated Press via Dallas Morning News)

So, is the Dallas Morning News' senior political writer, Slater, out of bounds in reporting on Texas gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis' potential conflicts of interest between her day job and the Fort Worth City Council? Or in a follow-up on details of her divorce settlement with her husband?

Nonsequiteuse ardently thinks that's the case, speaking primarily to the first issue. And friend Perry, in a larger round-up, largely agrees. Both think that sexism is at hand.

While not denying that may be a factor, I also see other things involved.

Like Davis having a job, perhaps pre-divorce as well as post-divorce, that seemed to primarily consist of "rainmaking." In other words, practicing Politics.As.Usual, large-scale municipal division.

So, let's say Davis didn't have her Safeco position as a result of a divorce, but still had the Safeco position, otherwise exactly as described. Would people give a closer look at this issue?

Slater did himself, a few months back, this time noting the Texas Lege, not the Fort Worth City Council as the scene of possible conflicts of interest, as I blogged about, and used the word "rainmaker" at that time already. The rainmaking this time being courtesy of her partnership at the Newby Davis law firm, not a nice title (pun semi-intended) at Safeco, the successor to the title insurance agency co-owned with her husband.

And, as I blogged even earlier than that, Slater's not the only one to raise these questions. The Houston Press'  Hair Balls did more than six months ago. With this comment:
So Davis didn't make it because she just wanted it more or was willing to make those sacrifices. She had a wealthy benefactor who made her path much easier. Davis's cognitive dissonance probably prevents her from admitting this, but that's her real bio. All this does is make her not that much different from any other narcissistic politician, Democrat or Republican.

Well put. 

Even if part of this is sexism, or sometimes has a sexist edge (and maybe it does, maybe it doesn't), nonetheless, there's some serious things to consider. And, per Hair Balls' note about cognitive dissonance, it may not be limited to Davis herself.

With that said, I'm going to print another comment by Calvin TerBeek, earlier in that Hair Balls piece:
And if you're giving her a pass, the only reason why you're doing so is because she's a Democrat and so are you. If she was a conservative candidate, you'd be attacking her for her campaign spin.
I think he's pretty much right. 

Besides, per the Texas Trib, the first reporting on the conflicts of issue issue is two years old, going back to her 2012 state Senate re-election race:
Since its inception, the Newby Davis law firm has drawn scrutiny over whether its work creates conflict of interest issues for Davis, who has said the practice offers legal services for cities and other public entities as well as companies trying to do business with those entities. The firm works out of offices owned by Cantey Hanger, one of Fort Worth’s largest and oldest law firms. Newby and Davis also do legal work for Cantey Hanger individually. But their Newby Davis firm is certified as a minority-owned business, allowing it to help public entities and private firms fulfill legal requirements or best-practice recommendations that they hire such contractors.
 The line between Davis’ public and private work raised eyebrows right from the start of her new legal career. In 2010, when Cantey Hanger announced in a press release that it was hiring Davis, it listed Davis’ taxpayer-funded communications director Anthony Spangler and her district office phone number as the press contact.
Not smart, at a minimum, that last thing. 

That said, I'll be honest that some of my skepticism about her moved into cynicism, after I read the details of her lawsuit against the Star-Telegram, as I discuss here. And, per TerBeek, I'd say the same, think the same, and feel the same, if she were still married, if she were lesbian, if she were male, if she were a gay male, if she were black, if she were a black male, if she were a black gay male, or other parameters.

So, let's just say that Davis has played Politics.As.Usual, albeit without the sharp elbows and Tea Party inanity of Greg Abbott.

Is it too hard to accept that, for the fifth gubernatorial raee in a row, the Democrats have a less than ideal candidate? That said, Davis is arguably better than the previous four, who were:
1. The Candidate Who Shouldn't Have Run, Garry Mauro, 1998 (who's now been recycled as one of Davis' mouthpieces; 'nuff said).
2. The Daddy Warbucks Republican in Hispanic Dream Team Sheep's Clothing, Tony Sanchez, 2002 (one of John Sharp's many missteps).
3. Mr. Ethics, but Bland as Oatmeal, Chris Bell, 2006. (Remember when Dems were wondering who even might run, and some were talking about endorsing that pistol-packin' independent, Carole Keeton Rylander Strayhorn Shorthorn Longhorn, or that other independent, clueless, knuckleheaded Kinky Friedman?)
4. Mr. Bland Neoliberal, Bill White, 2010. (I'm not even sure what to say about him, his campaign was that lame.)

Now that Julian Castro's allowed himself to be removed from the Texas-level political scenery, and black state Senate titans Rodney Ellis and Royce West have made clear by silence that they're not running, Texas Dems need to think now about who to run for 2018. Theoretically, that's a large part of why Battleground Texas was created in the first place. As noted, as least with Davis, the party's moved in the right direction a couple of percentage points on electability.

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