Tuesday was the biggest day in Wendy Davis’ political career for one reason you probably know and another that you might not. The first is that Wendy Davis just waged an utterly epic filibuster that turned disputes over parliamentary procedure into incredibly suspenseful drama. The second is that Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act was struck down, and that will make it much easier for Republican-controlled Texas to redraw Wendy Davis’ district to have fewer minorities. Davis eked out a narrow victory, 51-49, in 2012, and if she is given a tougher district in 2014, she might get voted out. So what’s she going to do? It’s the Wendy Davis Choose Your Own Adventure!
1. Stay the course
The default is for Wendy Davis to run for reelection in her state senate district. If her district is redrawn to have fewer minorities, she could still challenge this under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. Even if her challenge ultimately failed, it might allow her to stall the redrawing until 2016. Davis, you might have noticed, knows a thing or two about running out the clock.
2. Run for governor
Texas Governor Rick Perry’s term is up in 2014. He could run again, or there could be an open field. If Perry steps down, Democrats could have an outside, but nonzero chance at winning. Davis, a rising star and a formidable fundraiser, seems like as good a choice as any. One problem: she just stood for 13 hours to protect abortion rights. Texas is still very conservative, very pro-life and very unlikely to elect a pro-life crusader to be their governor. Still, if Davis is given a bad district, why not have a little fun waging a statewide campaign?
3. Run for U.S. Senate or Representative
Texas doesn’t just have a governor’s race in 2014 it has a senate race as well: Senator John Cornyn is up for reelection. Though she would very likely be up against an incumbent, this could be a better bet for Davis. Texans are decidedly nonplussed with Cornyn: a recent Public Policy Polling poll had his numbers at 34% approve, 36% disapprove and 30% aren’t sure. Wendy Davis would turn a boring race into a national spectacle. Again, there’s the abortion thing, and Cornyn could simply point out that the GOP would have little chance of taking the Senate in 2014 if they lost Texas. So it’s a longshot, but Davis might be looking at a longshot race regardless. In a potential House race, it would depend on which district Davis fell into, but she would likely face a similar longshot.
4. Run for President
Bear with me, this is less crazy than it sounds. Wendy Davis is a rising star, but in Texas, it’s unlikely she can bust through the glass ceiling for pro-choice Democrats. A statewide election would be fun (for those of us watching anyway), but a win would be unlikely. But what if she skipped a statewide run and went national? She’s nationally known, has earned the love of the left, and has a better claim than just about anyone right now as a champion of women’s rights. Could she win the nomination? She would have a shot. Not a great shot, but no one, with the possible exception of Hillary Clinton has a great shot. What a presidential run could do is capitalize on her Davis’ new national prominence. It would give her a chance at getting tagged as a running mate and, failing that, would allow her to transition from an elected official to a national figure.
5. Move into advocacy
Wendy Davis might not have an office she can win after redistricting, but that doesn’t mean she can’t be a national force. Her name would give any pro-choice or women’s rights group tremendous clout, and she is already an excellent fundraiser. She could align herself with a group, become a television correspondent and probably get her own show.
Whatever she does, we can be sure of one thing. Wendy Davis’ days of anonymity are over.