One of many undeniable truisms of politics, here and elsewhere, comes from the poker table: You cannot win if you do not play. The Democrats ought to needlepoint those words on a pillow this morning, so the next time there's a race to be run and they fail to file a candidate, any candidate, even a no-name, no-chance, warm body candidate, they'll remember that you can't get back to a competitive position against your majority party opponents unless you try.
A few hours ago, incumbent Republican senator Kip Averitt, of Waco, unexpectedly announced he would not run for reelection after all. As it's more than a week after the filing deadline, the field of candidates on the books is set; no backsies. So the Burleson insurance agent who was challenging Averitt from the right in the primary — likely a fool's errand, nothwithstanding my colleague Ross Ramsey's observation that there's lots of legroom when you run against Averitt from the right — becomes, by default, the next senator from District 22. The reason is that the Democrats either chose not to, or couldn't, find a candidate to take on Averitt in the fall, even though running at Averitt from the left in Waco would be something of a fool's errand as well.
You can understand their thinking: Why waste our time and, more importantly, our money on a race that can't be won? The answer is: Kip happens. Occasionally a fool's errand turns out to be, through dumb luck, the smartest errand in the world. But you'll never find out if you don't go on one. That Burleson insurance agent did, and now we'll be seeing more of him in Austin.
You cannot win if you do not play: Poker players know it, and the Democrats, if they mean to make this a two-party state again, need to know it too.