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Winning the Republican primary in the Texas governor’s race these days is almost like being handed the keys to the mansion. Texas hasn’t elected a Democrat to the top office since 1991. Since then, Republican governors George W. Bush and Rick Perry have used their office to vault them into the presidency, in Bush’s case, and for Perry, a chance to screw up royally before a national audience.

With Perry not seeking re-election, Texas Attorney General Gregg Abbott won the Republican primary in March by a huge margin, and the campaign money rolled in — far more than his Democratic opponent, State Sen. Wendy Davis was raising.

All Abbott had to do was not do anything stupid. Run his campaign like an incumbent. Don’t make rape jokes. Don’t hire undocumented immigrants as housekeepers. Don’t smoke crack. Don’t piss off the Tea Party. Don’t sext like Anthony Weiner. Basic stuff.

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But this is Texas politics. Things can get weird in a hurry.

Thorburn: “She never had a shot.” courtesy Wayne Thorburn
Thorburn: “She never had a shot.” courtesy Wayne Thorburn

You’d think some adviser might have sensed the danger of including misogynistic rocker Ted Nugent on the campaign team. Or in citing research from Charles Murray, an author who has declared women and minorities to be underachievers, prompting the Southern Poverty Law Center to brand him a “white nationalist.”

The attorney general looked naïve after appearing in commercials saying that if he were elected governor he would “unleash the oil and gas industry” –– an industry that’s never been leashed in Texas, enjoying lax regulation and special treatment by state officials for the past century.

For a guy who needed to lie low and play it safe, Abbott failed miserably at first. And while he piled up the faux pas, his Democratic challenger was being hailed as a rock star.

Davis gained national prominence from a lengthy Senate filibuster in 2013 against a bill that could close most abortion clinics in the state. (The bill passed and now is being fought through the courts.) Her pink tennis shoes became her calling card, and many people responded to her gutsy life story that included being a single mom living in a trailer house, fighting her way into the hallowed halls of Harvard University, and earning a law degree. People began associating her with former Gov. Ann Richards, the last Democrat to sit in the governor’s chair, after she defeated bumbling opponent Clayton Williams.

But as one Austin pundit put it, “Wendy Davis is no Ann Richards.” The pundit isn’t the only one saying so –– Time magazine published a story in February with an identical headline. And then Davis’ ex-husband talked to a reporter and shot holes in her backstory — minor holes, but holes nonetheless. Davis let up on the rags-to-riches story.

Rather than build on that initial rush of publicity and support, Davis spent so much time responding to criticism that she seemed to have trouble getting back to her own message. She snubbed President Barack Obama during his summer visit to Texas — even though an Obama campaigner put together a voter registration drive that could turn the tide for her. And her treatment of the press has drawn many grumbles.

Then again, she’s owned Abbott in two debates and has whittled away at the double-digit deficit shown in early polls. In some periods, fundraising on her behalf matched Abbott’s — quite a feat. More recent polls show she’s climbed to within six to nine points of Abbott among registered voters, who will render their verdict on Nov. 4.

But Abbott’s campaign seems back on track, despite major questions over his record, including his part in the Texas Enterprise Fund debacle.

With only a few weeks to go, Davis’ problem isn’t so much that she’s no Ann Richards as that Abbott is no Clayton Williams.

 

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13 COMMENTS

  1. Excellent article but with one exception. I would disagree with Glenn Smith’s statement that if the electorate knew the truth about the corruption of the last 12 years the Republicans wouldn’t stand a chance. The Texas electorate has become so complacent and so gullible during that time that they would believe anything the Repub’s told them. All they’ve been running on for the last 6 years is Obama and abortions and they continue to clean up across the state. Also remember that this is the party that has Dan Patrick running for the most powerful office in the state and thinks Konni Burton is fit for office.

  2. i was further inspired by wendy on “daybreak” (wfaa, local channel 8 news) in an interview with alexa conomos. i believe wendy was correct in her prediction that “if all our supporters vote, we will win this race”. more is more so donate & vote because this girl is a much better poster child for texas than the last two gubernatorial goobers. long live dixie chicks.

  3. re: corruption.

    Evidently the voters are not the only gullible parties. Buddy Barfield, a longtime Dewhurst aid and crony has recently been indicted for stealing $2 million dollars from Dewhurst’s failed senate campaign which he allegedly spent on his mortgage and kids tuition, according to today’s Dallas Observer Unfair Park. Makes you kind of wonder,doesn’t it?

  4. Baggers are going to be baggers, repugs are going to be repugs, hammer-heads are going to be hammer-heads—what else can they be? Just for spite, with a basis grounded in stone stupidity, these selfish half-wits shut the United States of America down—we couldn’t pay our bills, our promises, nor our obligations. A bigoted & hateful rancher in Arizona sent the U.S. government home with it’s tail between it’s legs, when it demanded payment for grazing his cattle on U.S.Government property. The U.S. had a choice to either retreat or kill hundreds of snot-slinging, jerk-off, Tea-Bagging peckerwoods. These two examples are only a tiny hint of both who and what we are dealing with. If we are so indifferent, or so wealthy, or so lazy that we allow this demented madness to continue, well, what goes around comes around. This nation was based on stealing the continent from the natives, hanging the witches, enslaving the Negros, poisoning and defecating on the natural resources, subjugating the female Anglos, while pretending to love Jesus. What’s new here? The problem here is not who Wendy is nor who Abbott is but who Texas voters are— and our problem is as big as Dallas.

    • Holland, you should see a therapist. All your comments begin with your “a=a; b=b; c=c” argument — which is true but meaningless — and abound with references to baggers, hammerheads, repugs, peckerwoods, ad nauseum. In your above rant, only the last sentence references Davis and Abbot, the subjects of the article.

      • Stouty, you need to kiss my foot. What do you eat? You need to get a decent job and amount to something. Who assigned a flake like you to suggest to any good Democrat what they need to do? Are you one of those Startle-Gram nit-wits? You, Stouty, are precisely who I was addressing, why don’t you grow up and amount to something? Have you no shame? Are you any kin to Gregg Abbott, you put me in mind of him. For many, many years the Weekly wasn’t bothered by jerks such as yourself. Have you no shame? You one of those stinking Baggers? Grow up, get a life.

          • Stoutstinker, you continue to outdo yourself . Is your Startle-Gram office still inside the Men’s Room at the Greyhound Station? Is it still printed over in Dallas and bussed back over here? Let me up, Dude. The very first & best thinking of your piece-of-snot hero, Mr.Abbott, was to select the worse criminogenic, douch-bag child molester in the Western Hemisphere to rally the low-achieving knuckle-heads to his cause…Mr. Ted Nugent, Esq. Nothing more needs to be said. God forgive them for they are fools. Puh-lease!

  5. “He later recanted the story and said he received a student deferment.”
    ________________________________________

    Ted Nugent received his student deferment in 1967, 2 years prior to the pants defecating incident at the induction center. And he got his deferment when he was touring with his band and not attending college so his deferment was fraudulently obtained. That’s a crime.

    Nugent and all other eligible young men were then subject to the Draft Lottery in 1969 which got rid of all deferments. His lottery number was 163 which means he should have been drafted. Lottery numbers 1 to 185 got notices that first year of the lottery and that’s when he probably did what he originally claimed.

  6. May I ask if anyone in chat considers this article biased? May I ask why do you support democrats? Texas is Texas for a reason, here you still have a better chance at becoming successful, here you can afford things. There is an overwhelmingly, overwhelmingly, overwhelmingly, emphasis on overwhelmingly amount of evidence that shows the struggle democratic states like Cali, Illinois, NY, RI, NH, etc. are facing. If you don’t like Texas then why don’t you move? The states I just mentioned will eventually be the same as Texas when it becomes democratic due to the heavy out of state influence. Just remember that your children will move out of this state when it is expensive and they’ll continue the cycle of moving into cheap republican states, they’ll complain, and that state will become democratic with more strict laws, higher cost of living, more government spending, etc. Even states that spend a crap load of money on education like Cali have literally the same education as Texas, Texas is ranked in the top 20 states for education (search it up) and both TX and CL have C- as average, in some ranking TX surpasses Cali (for instance math scores) Just remember when your family leaves this state because of what it is to become, remember who’s fault it will be, do not blame the republicans, independents, hillbillies, rednecks, whatever you want to say, remember it will be your fault, eventually the cycle will start over until the whole U.S.A. is consumed in this delusional mental state

    • I am not saying the republican platform is perfect or even close to it, but statistically it is the best option when it comes to assisting the economy. No not 99% of all republicans believe in religion, are anti-environmental, etc. you’d be surprised by how many people are lied to about this. The republican party has plenty of environmentalist, atheist, etc. its just that everyone (especially young people) are caught up in the whole lie about all republicans being white (that’s racist), anti-women, anti-gay, anti-globalwarming, etc. I have had plenty of discussions with democratic supporters (a lot of my friends) and I’ve showed them what the party is about I understand how you can “prove” that republicans are “evil” but these are the extremist, maybe if you’d actually do some research on your party’s opponent you would be more informed on which side is better for the country as a whole, you’d know that 90% of republicans aren’t anti-globalwarming- anti-atheist, anti-gay, racist, etc. I myself am a Hispanic republican, I used to support the democratic side due to me being lied to about the opposing side being evil. The reason why I switched was due to economics, literature (research opposing sides), economics, environmental science, etc. I am also an environmentalist, I recycle as much as possible, my home has green appliances, and my family has been “trying” to consume more plants (lets just say I am usually the one who eats all the fruit, vegetables, etc.) Basically don’t buy into propaganda do your own research.

      • Whose economy? The misguided Bible-thumping Peckerwoods or the rich, precious, little baby greed-heads at school? The reason why you switched, I expect, is because you’re in college (probably TCU) and all your associates are baby Repugs. You’re not old enough to have the personal experience, luckily, to be that selfish or black-hearted. Clearly there was an attempt to raise you right. It is obvious that you came out of good stock, but you’re getting to big for your britches. Read up on Thomas Jefferson’s religious beliefs, he was, I expect, even smarter than the authors of your religious research. You’re headed for grief with the Hotty-Totty hot-dogs. Don’t fall for it, you’re a good guy. I’m praying for you.

      • I agree with most of what you say, but all parties are subject to a certain amount of influence and corruption even.

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