Wilt­ing across Texas

When the go­ing gets tough, a can­di­date for gov­er­nor sues

The Washington Times Daily - - Editorial -

Pol­i­tics is a con­tact sport, and Texas Democrats have no bench. Repub­li­cans hold all 27 statewide elec­tive of­fices, in­clud­ing judge­ships. Democrats haven’t seen the in­side of the gov­er­nor’s man­sion since a fatal cam­paign gaffe by the Repub­li­can can­di­date nearly a quar­ter-cen­tury ago sent Ann Richards to take up res­i­dence for a sin­gle term.

Af­ter so long in the wilder­ness, it was in­evitable that Democrats in Texas would fall head over Prada heels for fash­ion­ista Wendy Davis. The state se­na­tor par­layed fawn­ing na­tional me­dia cov­er­age of her failed 12-hour fil­i­buster of re­stric­tions on abor­tion in June into a bid for gov­er­nor next year.

Her can­di­dacy in­spires Democrats with vi­sions of turn­ing deep-red Texas blue. Vogue mag­a­zine, in a pro­file of the two-term Fort Worth Demo­crat, set a more mod­est goal for the pol it de­scribes as an “overnight sen­sa­tion” with “Bar­bie-doll looks.” Vogue asks: “Could Texas turn pur­ple — and is Davis the one to take it there?”

It’s not clear she’ll be able to make it that far with­out a break­down, or at least a law­suit. Erick Erick­son, on his con­ser­va­tive Red State web­site, re­ports that Mrs. Davis sued the Fort Worth Star-Tele­gram for defama­tion af­ter she lost a 1996 elec­tion for the Fort Worth City Coun­cil, claim­ing that un­flat­ter­ing editorials about her po­si­tion on ex­pand­ing the zoo were writ­ten with “ma­li­cious in­tent to de­fame Davis.” There was a con­spir­acy, she said, “to di­rect crit­i­cism at Davis on the ed­i­to­rial page in an ef­fort to pre­vent Davis from be­ing elected.” This ef­fort, which in­cluded an en­dorse­ment of her op­po­nent, caused her to “suf­fer dam­ages to her men­tal health.”

She may have been driven crazy, but she should know bet­ter. If the press can’t poke fun at pompous politi­cians, who can? If a politi­cian’s self-es­teem suf­fers he (or she) should lie down un­til he (or she) feels bet­ter. If Mrs. Davis thinks any­one who dis­agrees with her has an opin­ion that goes “be­yond all pos­si­ble bounds of de­cency, as to be re­garded as atro­cious and ut­terly in­tol­er­a­ble in a civ­i­lized com­mu­nity,” she’s clearly not ready for prime time.

A trial judge found her law­suit to be a bit over the top and tossed it out. The Texas Court of Ap­peals and the Texas Supreme Court re­jected the pleas from Mrs. Davis to take up the case.

Wilt­ing at the sight of a few barbed words hardly be­fits a gov­er­nor, or even a can­di­date for gov­er­nor. “Don’t mess with Texas” means stand­ing up for the state, not run­ning to a ther­a­pist or a lawyer at the first sound of the guns. Surely a thin skin is no qual­i­fi­ca­tion for any pub­lic of­fice in a state where they cher­ish the mem­ory of the Alamo, Au­die Mur­phy and Hood’s Texas Brigade.

A Pub­lic Pol­icy Polling sur­vey Tues­day found Mrs. Davis trail­ing her likely Repub­li­can op­po­nent, state At­tor­ney Gen­eral Greg Ab­bott, 50 per­cent to 35 per­cent. That’s up from the 8-point lead Mr. Ab­bott had in July. Worse yet for Mrs. Davis, Pub­lic Pol­icy Polling, a Demo­crat-lean­ing firm, found her fa­vor­a­bil­ity rat­ing at a net neg­a­tive 6 points.

Win­ning in Texas will be a tall or­der for the five­foot-four lady in a state where Pres­i­dent Obama car­ried just 26 of the 254 coun­ties last year. One Texas pol, Su­san Combs, the Repub­li­can comptroller of pub­lic ac­counts, says tartly that Wendy Davis’ 15 min­utes of fame are just about over. “That’s so last week.”

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