won the 2016 election with about 54 percent of the vote in part by appealing to Democrats and outlining where she and they agree.
“I have always voted my uniquely independent district, and when it comes to campaign season I have always stood on my own, which is why I outperformed Republicans up and down
the ballot in the last midterm election,” Davis said in a statement after Abbott’s announcement. “Republican voters in HD 134 will not be told for whom to vote, and will not nominate a candi- date who will be so easily defeated in the fall because they are a wholly owned subsidiary of the extremist fringe group Empower Texans.”
Abbott said a day after the summer special session ended with the Legislature enacting just half of his agenda that he would support GOP challengers to Republican incumbents who did not back his priorities. Dokupil is the first GOP challenger Abbott has endorsed.
“It’s a little surprising for the governor to get involved,” especially because the seat isn’t open, said Mark P. Jones, a political scientist at Rice. “If Abbott is going to go after a Republican, Sarah Davis is probably at the top of the list.”
Davis is fiscally conserva- tive and socially moderate, especially on issues of abortion, education and health care, Jones said. That makes her the perfect representa- tive for her moderate district
but a target in the Republican primary, where the “median voter” tends to be more con- servative than Davis, he said.
If Davis loses the nomination, Democrats will have a better chance of picking up
the seat, he said. Davis is chairwoman of the House General Investi- gating and Ethics Committee. From that position, she has pushed for several reforms for more accountability in state government. During the summer special session, she and Rep. Lyle Larson, R-San Antonio, asked Abbott to add ethics reform to the agenda.
Legislation she introduced would have prohibited lawmakers and elected statewide officials from lobbying imme-
diately after leaving office. Other bills would have given the Texas Ethics Commission more oversight of local cam
paigns and political action committees inside and out
side the state, increased disclosure requirements for vendors that do business
with local governments to identify possible conflicts of interest, and extended conflict-of-interest disclosure requirements to members of governing boards at state agencies.
Another bill would have banned political contributions to the legislative and executive branches during special sessions and 20-day veto periods.
An Abbott spokesman said at the time that Davis and Larson were “showboating over proposals that are not on the governor’s call.”