The Wendy Surprise


Some mountains look just too high to climb. But you can be sure someone has climbed them. Or will climb them one day. Some people have that kind of spirit.

Wendy Davis is one of those people.

She actually believes she can become governor of Texas.

Texas! The Lone Star State. Land of the Colt .45 and the 16-ounce steak.

In my mind, Texas is a vast sea of grass dotted by cattle and yodeling cowboys with ten-gallon hats, who mask their steely nature with elaborate politeness.

I know, there are cities in Texas, big cities … skyscrapers and refineries … universities and corporate offices… I’ve been to Dallas-Fort Worth once and to Houston many, many times… the company I worked for in Miami had its head office in Houston.

But the Texas that lives in my imagination is the legendary land I adventured in as a boy, when I immersed myself in Zane Grey books, Gene Autry and Roy Rogers movies, and so on.

And it’s the legendary Texas that comes to mind today when I read news reports quoting Rick Perry or announcing some new legislative ban on abortion or civil rights. Surely, nobody who lives in a modern society would liken homosexuality to the disease of alcoholism, as Rick Perry just did? Surely no modern state would turn back the clock on women’s rights as Texas has? Surely, only a society shrouded in ignorance and inhumanity would pursue the sexist and racist policies that Texas has been pursuing?

So how does Wendy Davis figure she can become governor of such a state? She is indubitably a woman. And she is a Democrat – a progressive Democrat, not some ambiguous Blue Dog.

You remember Wendy? She’s the state legislator in the pink sneakers who stayed on her feet all night filibustering some retrogressive anti-abortion law. The teenaged single mother who grew up in a trailer park and worked her way through law school. Harvard law school. Yeah, that one.

Surely, she doesn’t have a chance of beating Attorney General Greg Abbott, the Republican candidate for governor who enjoys the support of Perry’s gang and all those right-wing cattle and oil billionaires?

Where would she even get the money that kind of campaign demands?

Surprise! The money is rolling in from far and wide, from Hollywood and Manhattan, for instance, even from places like Florida. Here’s an excerpt from an AP piece today by Paul J. Weber:

At a recent rooftop fundraiser hosted by Steven Spielberg and Jeffrey Katzenberg at the Bad Robot film studios near Los Angeles, she socked away more money for what could be a financially record-shattering race for Texas governor.

 Likewise, in Manhattan brownstones, Silicon Valley mansions and Washington hotels, Davis has told her compelling personal story of rising from a trailer park to Harvard Law and reeled in donors. She now has financial backers in every U.S. state and has collected nearly four times as much — at least $3.6 million — from outside Texas as her opponent, Republican Greg Abbott.

The odds still favor Abbott. He’s ahead in the polls. But there are miles to go before the election is decided, so who knows? Davis could pull it off. She’s done far more than anyone could have expected already.

Click for Wendy’s fund raising. 

Click for the filibuster story.