It’s a guessing game familiar to all political junkies: Will they or won’t they run?
The latest round started last week at a dinner hosted by the Texas Observer. During an acceptance speech for a philanthropy award, Austin businessman Marc Winkelman announced that former State Sen., and one-time gubernatorial candidate, Wendy Davis, would be running for a seat in the U.S. House. Davis responded that she hasn’t made up her mind about running.
Elizabeth Simas, associate professor of political science at the University of Houston, says the seat Davis could run for, District 21, is currently held by first-term Republican Chip Roy.
“It was a very traditionally Republican district,” Simas says. “But [Roy] only won by about three points, which is why some people are saying this could be a district that Democrats could take over in the next election.”
District 21 reaches north from San Antonio, into the suburbs of Austin. It was represented by Republican Lamar Smith for 30 years before his retirement in 2018.
Simas says she questions whether Democrats would win District 21, even if Davis were the candidate.
Roy gained notoriety last month when he singled-handedly – and temporarily – blocked a disaster relief measure in the U.S. House that included money for Hurricane Harvey recovery. Simas says Roy’s constituents may agree with his reasons for opposing the bill, which included a desire to add funding for President Donald Trump’s border wall.
“People may see that as him just really standing up for his district, for Texas and his beliefs,” Simas says.
Davis rose to prominence in 2013 when she filibustered an abortion bill in the Texas Senate. She ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2014. Simas points out that Davis didn’t represent District 21 in the state Senate; she represented Fort Worth.
“In 2014, I think a lot of people saw the national attention that she got, and there was this narrative that, hey, she’s the candidate that’s being pushed by people outside Texas,” Simas says.
Written by Shelly Brisbin.