The hour will soon arrive when Texas State Sen. Wendy Davis (D) announces whether she will run for governor, and if she does, Texas politics will never be the same.
The challenges facing Republicans in Texas are similar to the challenges facing Republicans nationally, which is what I discussed in my new column about the battle between traditional Republicans and a new breed of old-idea Republicans I labeled the neo-confederates.
Texas will almost certainly go blue. The question is how fast. If Davis runs for governor, where she will be a fighting underdog with a real but long-shot chance of winning; and if Hillary Clinton runs for president, where she will have an even money chance of carrying Texas, the surge of Democrats in Texas will be accelerated. I emphasize that while Davis and Clinton are both pro-choice, they expand their vote with their long-term championing of issues such as pay equity, jobs, veterans support, and issues important to seniors, among many others.
One part of the Texas blue movement is demographic and data-driven. The surge of the Hispanic population is powerful, profound, increasing and game-changing. Equally important is the surge of female voters, the rise of female influence, and the rise of major league Democratic candidates, talented Democratic organizers, motivated Democratic voters and powerful Democratic donors who happen to be women.
Add to this the motivation of young voters and black voters to support Democrats and come out to vote for those candidates who inspire them, and add the fear among these voters of GOP candidates who appear hostile to the interests of women, Hispanics, young people and blacks as they (correctly) define their interests.
If Davis runs for governor in 2014, she accelerates and deepens the infrastructure of workers, donors, and voters that will be a launching pad for Clinton in 2016. If San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro (D) were to run statewide in 2014, this powerful impact deepens. I doubt Castro will run in 2014, but I can report that some very important Texas Democrats are today approaching a number of high-octane Hispanic Texas Democrats who would be inspiring and exciting statewide candidates in 2014.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), by contrast, is far out of the mainstream of the history of the Republican Party. Cruz is one of the least influential Republicans in modern Senate history. His extreme rightist policies, his extreme personal ambition and his extreme obstructionist attitudes have deeply alienated and offended a large majority of Republican senators.
Cruz is a cable television Senator, a show horse who grandstands to the right-wing of the right-wing GOP base which takes him and those who agree with him further and further away from mainstream voters and swing voters who decide state and national elections.
Texas Attorney General and front-runner for governor, Greg Abbott (R), continues to alienate the constituencies (Hispanics, women, young voters and blacks) whose loyalty and turnout for Democrats offers the great hope for Democrats.
Abbott appears to have an angry streak. He is prone to political outbursts and hasty moves that I predict will make him accident prone in a statewide campaign and make the prospect of an Abbott governorship a frightening thought for large numbers of female Texas voters.
Today, I would put the odds of Davis winning in 2014 at 40 percent and the odds of Clinton carrying Texas in 2016 at 50 percent. The great variable in Texas and the reason I am somewhat more optimistic than most analysts if Davis runs is, I confess, metaphysical. In brief: Many Texas Democrats have a losing attitude. Compared to the years I worked for former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-Texas), a winner with the ultimate winning attitude, far too many Texas Democrats fall victim to an innate pessimism that looks backward to past electoral losses.
I should emphasize that this pessimistic syndrome is found more in the political Texas men I talk to than the political Texas women I talk to, who are much more gung-ho and ready to go. This is why I recently praised Annie's List, the Texas sister of EMILY's list. These women are leaders and winners, and if Davis runs they will storm the Bastille of reactionary Texas Republicanism.
The big question is whether the future is now or soon. When I think of Annie's List and the prospect of Davis running for governor, I think of a comment JFK once made: If you face a man's job, find a woman!