Election season is kicking into gear here in Texas, and The Texas Tribune reports Monday that former gubernatorial candidate, Wendy Davis, is running for Congress. She’s challenging incumbent Congressman Chip Roy. He represents Texas’ 21st District, which encompasses much of the Hill Country and part of Austin.
Brandon Rottinghaus, political science professor at the University of Houston, says her bid is a sign that progressive politics now have a place in the Texas Democratic Party. When she ran for governor in 2014, he says that wasn’t the case. Also, he says she’s a big name that could draw more attention to Texas Democrats in general.
“She definitely is a known quantity, and is gonna be a shining star for the Party in Texas,” Rottinghaus says.
Davis now lives in Austin, but had lived in Forth Worth for years – she represented part of Tarrant County as a senator in the Texas Legislature for six years. Now, she’s trying to build a constituency in Central Texas. Part of that effort, Rottinghaus says, will include drawing national attention to her campaign. And “nationalization” of local politics is a trend, not just in Texas, but elsewhere in the country.
“I think there’s gonna be a lot of money from outside Texas,” Rottinghaus says.
He says that’s in contrast to her fundraising in 2014, when about one-quarter of her money came from outside the state.
Rottinghaus also says Chip Roy is vulnerable going into 2020.
“He has made some enemies in Congress, he has said some things I think a lot of Democrats are going to try to rally against,” Rottinghaus says. “So he’s gonna have a big target, and that’s gonna draw a lot of attention.”
Davis is entering the race precisely because it won’t be a long shot. That’s not always the case in congressional races with incumbents, Rottinghaus says.
“She’s not your ordinary challenger; she’s somebody who’s had a lot of experience in the realm,” Rottinghaus says.
And she’s good at fundraising: In 2014, she raised almost as much as Gov. Greg Abbott, whom Rottinghaus says is a “prodigious fundraiser.”
“This is definitely a signal that this is a race that the Democrats think that they can win,” Rottinghaus says.
He doesn’t know if any other Democrats would try to challenge Davis in a primary.
While Davis had her critics, especially when she ran for governor, Rottinghaus says she’s a strong fundraiser, and can also capitalize on her well-known abortion-rights stance when it comes to talking about health care during her campaign.
“[That’s] something Democrats think is gonna be the big issue,” Rottinghaus says.
Written by Caroline Covington.