As I mentioned in my Wendy and Me blog, until the night of her filibuster, I didn’t know, or care, who Wendy Davis was. There wasn’t anything in her legislative record that would raise her personal profile to the point that folks outside her district would notice, or care about her. In the way of Texas politics, it would be unusual for a second term state senator representing Fort Worth to be followed by someone from south Austin.
(For those of my readers wonky enough to care about the oddities of Texas Politics I will explain at the end of this Blog…I don’t want to bore the folks who are just here for the end of the Tale of Two Representatives story.)
In the first part of “A Tale of Two Representatives — Wendy Davis and Margo Davison“, I noted that I had been following the abortion clinic murder trial of Kermit Gosnell, long before I became aware of Wendy Davis. Having written about, and been an advocate for, women’s health and safety, I was impressed by Margo Davison’s brave vote for the regulatory oversight of abortion clinics in Pennsylvania. Her personal experience with the devastation Gosnell had visited upon the women of her district influenced her vote. Davison’s powerful rational for health and safety reform of women’s clinics influenced others. After observing the personal and professional fall-out that was visited upon Margo Davison by Planned Parenthood, I was moved to compare and contrast how the ‘democratic-party-faithful’ responded to each of these women. What I found was fascinating, disturbing, disappointing, but certainly illuminating.
As a Democratic woman running for public office, the difference between, coronation and evisceration is not based on your willingness to stand up against an over overwhelmingly republican legislature; but whether you are willing to break ranks with Planned Parenthood and NOW.
I guess what made me really curious about Wendy Davis in the first place, is how she rose fully constructed from a seething froth of media adoration like Venus on a Half Shell.In 2012, Davis won a tough reelection bid by only 6000 votes. There was the usual accusations and counter claims of the kind of voter fraud AG Holder has assured us doesn’t exist, so no worries. Wendy was back for the 83rd Session, and with a little help from her friends, she was getting ready for her close up.
After a year of digging around, I finally figured out why the whole, Wonderful World of Wendy thing has been niggling at me since the night of her filibuster.
When you understand the political make-up of the Texas legislature, the whole, “I’m going to stand here bravely, in my little pink shoes, and read my followers abortion stories while my thousands of supports shout at you until you give us our way!” is good theater; but a total loss as a viable strategy to change the hearts and minds of her fellow state senators. The other senators on the floor were elected to represent the view of their constituents. Poll after poll has indicated that Planned Parenthood and NOW can pump-up and turn-out their supporters; but in Texas, at this time, Planned Parenthood’s support of unrestricted abortion after 20 weeks is a minority opinion. The elected legislators know that. Wendy knows that. I’m pretty sure the organizational power-players of the DNC, NOW and Planned Parenthood knows that.
So, why the performance-art moment?
Packing the statehouse with screaming occupiers is unlikely to sway the view of many Texans. Pinks shoes, back brace, and urinary catheter aside, Senator Davis only gets one vote. She casts it for her Fort Worth area constituents. Her #standwithwendy team doesn’t get to cast extra votes because she brought a highly motivated, vocal, “12th woman” to root for her during a senatorial deliberation.
I’m not sure her feminist-faithful understood it, but as a way to stop an inevitable vote, Wendy’s 11-hour stand against health and safety regulations being applied to abortion clinics, and unrestricted abortion after 20-weeks, was a doomed strategy from the get-go.
But, what if permanently stopping SB 5, or its next special session successor, was not the actual gambit played by Wendy and her Planned Parenthood supporters?
What if the month long social media blitz leading up to the filibuster; the one that garnered “inspirational” abortion stories for Wendy to read from the floor during her pink-shod, #standwithwendy filibuster, was a carefully orchestrated, and deliberate strategy to raise Wendy’s profile as something more then a somewhat obscure, two-term state senator?
That cynical interpretation of a possible Planned Parenthood / DNC strategy is not as far-fetched as it sounds. In fact after a year’s worth of research, it is a logical conclusion.
The night before the filibuster the majority of Texans, and almost all of America had never heard of Wendy Davis. She had however, been packaged and marketed to the Planned Parenthood faithful, as someone is willing to “standup” to fight overwhelming odds to “Save” abortion clinics in Texas, and fight for women’s rights to unrestricted abortion! If you follow the social media trail, you can track the overwhelming amount of planning it took to turn out the gallery protesters and outside objectors. Community organizers used social media to get volunteers to help with transportation issues, signage, special shirts, and lining up spare rooms and sofas for the out of town folks. The friendly media was contacted and prepped and photographers were positioned to capture powerfully dramatic photo-ops.
I have to admit, following the various twitter feeds, from before, during and immediately after the filibuster cinched my suspicion that this ‘spontaneous ground swell of support’ was neither spontaneous, or an organic, grass-roots, ground swell. This was a top-down, organized event that was strategically controlled to meet one purpose. That purpose wasn’t about stopping a bill. It was using an opportunity to move a regional team player into the “BIGS” while raising a BIG pile of money.
Planned Parenthood, NOW and their DNC supporters showed up at a local knife fight and brought guns, really big guns…
Her filibuster performance catapulted Wendy Davis, two-term Texas state senator, with an average legislative record into Wendy Davis, DNC Media Super Star! Her name was on the lips of Texans across the state. In some cases the lips were saying, “Who is that blond woman?” In some cases, the lips were saying, “I need to get my credit card, MoveOn.org just asked me to chip in $5 to support Wendy!”
By the time Wendy disabled her urinary catheter, money, really big money was being pledged to the Dem’s new hope for a Blue Texas. Wendy had been groomed to be a star — she was indeed, ready for her close-up! Within weeks she was in the pages of Vogue. (I cut my big- girl teeth in the Chicago magazine industry, somebody, somewhere leaned real hard on whoever controlled the editorial calendar to get that story in as fast as they did.) Wendy was also featured in Rolling Stone, had a fan-girl interview on Huff-Po. Huff-Po also ran the feed from the senate flood almost on continuous loop for weeks — it is still up if you click on it.
Financial support was driving the tide that raised Wendy up to national notice. The progressive media, network, cable, print and online, breathlessly reported Wendy’s personal rags to wonderful narrative, and the possibility that she might, just maybe, consider…if we all just clapped our hands real hard and believed hard enough to chip in $5, our Wendy would run…sorry got carried away for a moment I got Wendy confused with another blond — Tinker-Bell.
Wendy Davis emerged as a DNC construct. In essence her race isn’t so much a state election for Governor, but a national battle to win a ‘Blue’ beachhead and eventually ‘take’ Texas. The oft’ trotted out, “War on Women” battle cry has always been a sure winner for raising money and motivating volunteers. Remember, I’m on the MoveOn.org mailing list —I know these things. The great thing about the progressive left is that they always signal their intentions. They called this race “Battle Ground Texas” and the first shot in their war on little ol’ Red Texas was the filibuster staged by Wendy Davis and her cadre of nation special interest groups. Wendy Davis is the standard bearer, but the power, the real power, and the money in this race is from out of state.
The interesting part about all this political intrigue is that Texas is a state of stark contrast, and I’m not just talking about the Hill Country verses the Chihuahua desert. The general electorate is split, dazed and confused. Texas Yellow Dogs are all in. Bless their hearts, they always are. The Blue Dog Democrats (southern financial conservatives) are asking off-topic questions, like does the women have enough executive experience to run the world’s15th largest economy. The republicans are pretty sure she is a one-issue candidate, and most of them don’t agree with her stand on that issue.
That leaves the election in the hands of the new folks from out of state. From 2008 through 2012, driver’s license migration, and IRS stats indicate about a thousand folks a day have been moving to Texas. Why? A thriving economy with lots of jobs, a friendly business environment, and no state income taxes. High earning New Yorkers and Californians can take home between 9% and 11% more of their income by moving to Texas.
As it relates to the fast approaching Gubernatorial election, the question in most Texan’s minds is, “Will the new comers vote for the same type of policies and politicians that made their former home state non-competitive, or will they notice what they like about Texas, remember why they left their blue state, and vote more toward the red? No one knows the answer.
Wendy and her national backers a betting on the ‘blue-reflex’ war on women vote; the Republicans are betting on the “Why change what is obviously working so well” vote; and the independents, and out of state, economic refugee vote is anybody’s guess. That is why this will be the single most expensive Gubernatorial election in Texas history. And that is what makes the Wendy Davis, DNC Super Star story so darn interesting. Win loose or draw, I want to share some of the interesting information I gathered about the Planned Parenthood, and how it affects elections not only in Texas, but across our nation. But I’ll save that story for next time.
For my more data-driven, geeky readers, check out the FloatingSheep site for an analysis id the temporal and geographic information on the #StandWithWendy Twitter feed
Special edition for my Political Wonk Readers
The Oddities of Texas Politics:
Or why most of us had never heard of Wendy Davis until she talked out the clock on the first special session of the 83rd Legislative season.
The founding Texans were a wily lot. The State of Texas operates under the biennial system, convening its regular sessions on the second Tuesday in January of odd-numbered years. The maximum duration of a regular session is 140 days. We don’t have ‘full-time’ legislators like California, who pay themselves a generous $95,000 for their service. By contrast, Texas senators and representatives earn $7,200 annually, not including their per diem, for their public work. The folks of Texas expect them to work a day-gig like the rest of us, perhaps hoping that they bring those lessons to the legislative sessions.
Based on our history it is no secret that the citizens of Texas inherently don’t trust big government. Most of the public perceives the short legislative season as a positive, and a way to limit government intrusion into our lives. Short sessions help keep frivolous bills and legislative self–aggrandizement at a minimum. The early Texans apparently understood that the less time you give the legislature to get into mischief, the less time they will have to pick your pocket.
Our state constitution gives the governor authority to convene the legislature to a ‘special session’ at other times during the biennium. These sessions are reserved for legislation that the governor deems important in the conduct of our state’s affairs. They are limited to a period of 30 days, during which the legislature is permitted to pass laws only on subjects submitted by the governor in calling for the session.
The Legislative Budget Board estimates that these 30-day‘special sessions” cost taxpayers about $1.2 million, not including the representatives per-diem allotment. Which by the way, is why the vast majority of Texas taxpayers, were not as enthralled as the national media with the “occupy-tactics” of Wendy’s unruly supporters. Their antics forced a second special session, in which the bill was destined to pass. Wendy, cute pink shoes and all, did not have the votes.
Why did Wendy and her gang not have the votes? A Republic indicates representative governance. We elect someone we agree with and support, and they go to the Capital and vote our will. If they don’t, we get to fire them next election cycle. The reason Wendy Davis needed the whole social media driven Bread-and-Circus filibuster to oppose SB-5 was she and her Planned Parenthood /NOW supporters did not have the votes — because the average people of Texas, as Wendy keeps describing us in her campaign pitches, are more conservative than she and her supporters. That may change in the next election, the fate of Teas is in the voting arms of her newest sons and daughters. Hold on kids, November 3rd is going to be a bumpy night.