I hate getting ahead of myself when it comes to political campaigns, given that anything can happen — and it occasionally does.
However, it might be time to start picking apart the potential race for Texas governor next year. It looks for all the world as if it’s going to be Republican Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott running against Democratic state Sen. Wendy Davis for the state’s top political job.
How do I know that? Well, I don’t. It’s just a feeling.
I’m not alone. Texas Tribune’s Ross Ramsey has written a fascinating analysis of the personalities involved in this upcoming campaign — assuming, of course, that it’s Abbott and Davis.
Ramsey notes that this is the first “open” governor’s race — meaning one with no incumbent seeking re-election — since 1990. Twenty-four years ago Democratic state Treasurer Ann Richards ran against Republican oilman Clayton Williams. Both candidates were larger than life. They commanded the stage simply by virtue of their outsized personalities. Richards had won national fame with her keynote speech at the 1988 Democratic National Convention, in which she lampooned then-Vice President George Bush for being “born with a silver foot in his mouth.” Williams had made a fortune in the oil business and told folks on the campaign trail that he would introduce Texas prison inmates to the “joy of bustin’ rocks.”
Don’t look for Abbott or Davis to capture the voters’ imagination in quite the same fashion, Ramsey writes.
Look instead for an issue-oriented campaign for governor. Abbott has been on the statewide stage for some time, as a Texas Supreme Court justice and as attorney general. Davis has been a state senator from Fort Worth and gained state and national attention only recently, leading a filibuster against an anti-abortion bill being considered by the Legislature.
Both have compelling personal stories. Abbott has been wheelchair bound since being injured as a teenager when a tree fell on him in Houston. Davis reared a child as a single mother and went on to obtain a law degree from Harvard University.
Neither of them is considered a stirring orator. Abbott, though, has tons of money and has the backing of the state’s immense GOP political establishment. Davis is stirring the emotions of Texas Democrats who haven’t tasted victory in a statewide race since 1994.
Will they be their parties’ nominees for governor? Oddsmakers say “yes.” Tom Pauken, a Dallas lawyer and a former state Republican Party chairman, also is running for governor and has a different take on it. He thinks he’ll win the GOP nod. Davis has no discernible opposition for the Democratic Party nomination.
Don’t expect a campaign full of color and personality. Expect one that talks in detail about which person is better qualified to lead than the state.