The Brief: Texas Political News for Aug. 30, 2013

State Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, leaving a press conference on May 29, 2011.
State Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, leaving a press conference on May 29, 2011.

The Big Conversation

State Sen. Wendy Davis may not be announcing her political plans for another month, but details surrounding her decision-making are beginning to emerge.

Though Democratic groups and activists in Texas have urged Davis to launch a gubernatorial bid, The New York Times reports that she has also received encouragement from national Democratic groups.

Strategists from the Democratic Governors Association, for instance, with whom Davis met earlier this month, appear convinced that a Davis candidacy would not only potentially put Texas in play but also force the Republican Governors Association to pour money into the state.

"The RGA would probably have to waste resources there, which is compelling to us," an unnamed DGA official told the Times.

According to advisers, though, behind-the-scenes conservations with Davis have focused on whether she'd have an actual shot at winning in a state that hasn't elected a Democrat to statewide office since 1994. And some of those advisers are saying she would.

As Trip Gabriel writes: "Researchers presented Ms. Davis with private polling that showed she was better known for her personality than for her positions. They also prepared an analysis of the nearly 900,000 Twitter messages in the 24 hours around her filibuster in June, which temporarily halted a bill to ban abortion in Texas after 20 weeks. A high percentage of those messages focused on her physical ordeal" during the filibuster.

Still, the intensifying talk of a Davis candidacy hasn't fazed many Republicans, who remain convinced of the strength of their likely candidate, Attorney General Greg Abbott, a prolific fundraiser who on Thursday reported collecting about $1 million in July, more than twice that of Davis.

"God, I hope she runs, it’ll be great," Dave Carney, Abbott's top political adviser, told the Times. "I don’t see her brand of populism, which is beautifully accepted on the Left Coast and the Acela Corridor, being a selling job in Texas."

Culled

•    Census: Texas has highest rate of uninsured in nation (Austin American-Statesman): "Texas leads the nation in the percentage of residents who lack health insurance, with more than 1 in 4 people younger than 65 without coverage of any kind, according to new census data released Thursday. More than 5.7 million people, 26 percent of Texans younger than 65, were uninsured in 2011. The uninsured rate was higher — 31 percent — for working-age adults ages 18 to 64, the data show. At 25 percent, Florida had the nation’s second-highest percentage of uninsured among those younger than 65. Massachusetts, with 4.9 percent, had the lowest."

•    Houston ground zero in search for uninsured (Houston Chronicle): "Houston, with an estimated 800,000 uninsured residents, ranks among the nation's largest cities with the highest number of working poor residents — many of whom could be eligible for health coverage under the Affordable Care Act. Federal officials, lawmakers and community organizers say Houston is fertile ground to sign up the poor and uninsured as insurance marketplaces open Oct. 1 for enrollments. Yet it's unclear how the three nonprofit agencies charged with identifying, educating and enrolling uninsured Houstonians will reach so many people."

•    TxDOT Officials Address Concerns on Cost-Cutting Plans (The Texas Tribune): "More than a dozen city and county officials from across the state urged the Texas Department of Transportation on Thursday to hold off on two controversial cost-cutting plans. The monthly meeting of the Texas Transportation Commission, the five-member board that oversees TxDOT, was dominated by the agency’s plans to convert some paved roads to gravel and to transfer responsibility for maintenance of some popular thoroughfares to cities."

•    Gay Marriages in All States Get I.R.S. Recognition (The New York Times): "All same-sex couples who are legally married will be recognized as such for federal tax purposes, even if the state where they live does not recognize their union, the Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service said Thursday. It is the broadest federal rule change to come out of the landmark Supreme Court decision in June that struck down the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, and a sign of how quickly the government is moving to treat gay couples in the same way that it does straight couples."

Quote to Note: "As for the governor of Texas, he'll learn, you don't mess with folks here in the Show-Me State." — Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat, in a new radio ad criticizing Gov. Rick Perry for his job-poaching trip to the state

Must-Read

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