The waiting is the hardest part

Watching this it’s easy to see why the wing nuts and tea party freaks hate Joe Straus, TribuneFest: A Conversation With Joe Straus. The dude is smart, calculating, and very very effective. The only reason to like Straus is that he makes the crazies crazier.

She will need to be bold.  Wendy Davis is making her announcement today.  The Texas Observer has an article from a former Ann Richards campaign veteran, What Wendy Davis Can Learn from Ann Richards’ Gubernatorial Campaign. The advice is to focus on the numbers, suburban women, and…make it about Greg Abbott. More on the last one below.

The 1990 Richards campaign for governor was a referendum on Clayton Williams—his competence, his character, his business and his big mouth.

The decision to focus on Williams was a critical factor in Ann’s winning campaign and it may be the most important lesson for the Davis campaign in 2014. We made the campaign about Clayton Williams, rather than about Ann Richards. The Davis campaign can also force a referendum on the mean-spirited acts and opinions of Greg Abbott.

In the Richards campaign, we took the words and actions of Clayton Williams and used them against him. We were relentless in our attacks on his rape jokes, disrespect for women, ignorance of state government and unwillingness to reveal anything about his finances or tax records. Our campaign managed to throw him off balance and make him so angry that he refused to shake Ann’s hand at a public forum in Dallas in the presence of television cameras. This stupid act of bad behavior provided a new framework for voters to judge everything else he said or did. Finally after months of prodding by our campaign, Williams admitted that he had paid no income taxes for the previous few years, a decisive factor in his defeat. The focused efforts of our campaign forced Williams to make critical mistakes and we were well-organized enough to take advantage of them.

Greg Abbott’s record is ripe for similar disclosure. After holding statewide office for more than 20 years, he is still unknown and untested. He has already begun to make the kinds of gaffes that could torpedo his campaign. And even in red Texas, his ideas are out of touch on dozens of issues that matter to the majority of voters. He is against requiring employer-based health insurance policies to provide contraception coverage. He is against requiring background checks that prevent mentally ill people from buying guns. He is against providing adequate funding to improve the quality of Texas public schools. And he has done everything in his power to restrict the right to vote for ordinary people, particularly for those who are old or poor or who don’t have a driver’s license to show for identification. These are not left-right issues. They are issues that matter to suburban voters, as well as to the Democratic base.

No hotly contested political campaign in Texas is ever easy. Wendy Davis’s race may be one of the toughest in recent history.

She will have to be bold and stand her ground.

She will be brutally attacked on a personal and political level—just as Ann was.

She will be outspent—just as Ann was.

She will probably trail in the polls until the end of the campaign—just as Ann did.

But with a little good luck and her well-disciplined, numbers-based campaign that focuses on the record of Greg Abbott, Wendy Davis can pull off a major upset victory—just as Ann Richards did. She has the right mixture of courage, intelligence, and political savvy to make it happen.

Kuff has more on yesterday’s poll, Lyceum poll: Abbott over Davis, 29-21.  There’s definitely an opportunity.

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