Who is Wendy Davis?
And why is the legislative GOP so afraid of her?
By Richard Whittaker, 1:18PM, Mon. Jun. 6, 2011
First she was going to defect to the Republicans. Then they were gerrymandering her district out of existence. Now the GOP is trying to blame her for the special session. So here is the real question: Why is are Texas Republicans so afraid of Fort Worth Democrat Sen. Wendy Davis?
Instead of being culpable for the special session, Davis said she takes pride for re-opening the school finance debate. She said, "I feel personally responsible for asking us to consider the funding plan for public education. Obviously the consequence of that is a special session."
When Davis ran out the clock on the debate of Senate Bill 1811 during the regular session, GOPers on the House floor rubbed their hands in glee, saying that she would alienate her own party: If they had to come back for a special session, then that would open the door to bringing back toxic rule changes like sanctuary cities, and Davis would be blamed for that. Not according to Rep. Marc Veasey, D-Fort Worth. "We were coming back anyway," he said. "The governor said we were coming back for [Texas Windstorm Association reform], possibly for congressional redistricting." The reality, he said, is that "someone's probably mad because they probably had some deal cut and they wanted to get out of town."
Instead of becoming a demonic figure to Democrats, Davis is heading towards folk heroine status, catching the attention of the New York Times. Like any good folk tale, her role in derailing the school finance bill has been exaggerated. The GOP leadership self-sabotaged by dumping the bill in both chambers mere hours before the voting deadline, but Davis still gets the kudos/blame (to quote The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, "This is the West, sir. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.")
Truth be told, the GOP always had the daggers out for Davis, even before she took her seat. In 2008 then-senator Kim Brimer tried unsuccessfully to have her kicked off the ballot. Before the current session, rumors flew around that she would follow Reps. Aaron Peña and Allan Ritter by defecting to the GOP caucus. The most recent assault on her via the redistricting of her Tarrant County District 10 seat makes both the congressional and state senate redrawing of Travis and the surrounding counties look like a minor nuisance.
So why has the GOP spent so much time, energy and effort trying to separate the Fort Worth freshman from her fellow Democrats? Davis said, "I don't know why there's the constant rumor complex. I think sometimes, when you are a person who stands for your convictions, and you're someone who doesn't roll with the flow, that can be uncomfortable for some people who are used to a nice, comfortable flow."