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The Brief: Oct. 3, 2013

What's likely to be one of the nation's most closely watched 2014 races kicks into full swing today.

State Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, at The Texas Tribune Festival on Sept. 29, 2013.

The Big Conversation

What's likely to be one of the nation's most closely watched 2014 races kicks into full swing today.

After months of speculation about whether she would parlay her newfound political stardom into a bid for higher office, state Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, is expected to formally announce today that she's running for governor. 

Davis' announcement last week of the event — which will be held around 5 p.m. at the auditorium in Haltom City where she received her high school diploma — all but confirmed that she would run. At The Texas Tribune Festival over the weekend, she talked at length about why and how she would run, but stopped short of confirming that she was doing so.

Meanwhile, discussion has shifted to what Davis' campaign might look like. As the Tribune's Jay Root wrote on Wednesday: "[Davis] is relying on a tight-knit group of people who have fought in the political trenches together, often against the odds, and often in territory seen as inhospitable to Democrats. So it’s no surprise to her close allies that the Davis for Governor campaign will not be based in liberal Austin but rather in Fort Worth."

Davis' impending announcement, as well as new polling, has also sparked a new round of speculation about her chances in a state that hasn't elected a Democrat statewide in two decades. A new Texas Lyceum Poll released Wednesday showed Attorney General Greg Abbott, the likely Republican nominee and presumptive front-runner in the general election, leading Davis by 8 points, 29 percent to 21 percent, with 50 percent of Texans undecided. (The poll received some criticism for not pushing undecided voters to answer how they leaned.)

"If I'm the Abbott people, I'm thinking to make up the 8-plus points, Davis has to carry undecideds by at least 8 percentage points, and undecideds are self-identifying as conservative," Daron Shaw, a government professor at the University of Texas at Austin who conducted the Lyceum Poll, told the San Antonio Express-News. "She needs to dominate the agenda if she wants to be competitive in this race. "

Added Rice University political scientist Mark Jones, in The Dallas Morning News: "For Republicans, the key is hanging on to their supermajorities among Anglo women. If you’re thinking about the Democratic Party, the two ways you make inroads is among Hispanics and among Anglo women. Those are the two groups you need."

But former Lt. Gov. Bill Ratliff, a moderate Republican, cast doubt on Democrats' ability to turn the tide among suburban women. "The moderate suburban woman is out there. I’m not sure it’s enough to make up for the right-wing zealots," he told the Morning News, adding, "Most of those women don’t put on their marching shoes. They may quietly vote for the other party, but it’s hard to see a movement."

On Wednesday, meanwhile, the race added another contestant: Libertarian Kathie Glass, who also ran for governor in 2010. "We’re going to be active in every aspect of this race,” said Glass, a Houston lawyer. "We are getting out there a lot sooner."

And as she told the Express-News: "Those $20 million that Greg Abbott has in the bank right now, that is the rich and powerful making an investment that they are confident will make them more rich and more powerful. We're not going to get that. We can't outspend them. But they can't outwork me."


•    Ted Cruz blasted by angry GOP colleagues (Politico): "Ted Cruz faced a barrage of hostile questions Wednesday from angry GOP senators, who lashed the Texas tea party freshman for helping prompt a government shutdown crisis without a strategy to end it. At a closed-door lunch meeting in the Senate’s Mansfield Room, Republican after Republican pressed Cruz to explain how he would propose to end the bitter budget impasse with Democrats, according to senators who attended the meeting. A defensive Cruz had no clear plan to force an end to the shutdown — or explain how he would defund Obamacare, as he has demanded all along, sources said. Things got particularly heated when Cruz was asked point-blank if he would renounce attacks waged on GOP senators by the Senate Conservatives Fund, an outside group that has aligned itself closely with the Texas senator. Cruz’s response: 'I will not,' according to an attendee."

•    Perry, spokeswoman weigh in on first lady’s abortion comments (Austin American-Statesman): "Gov. Rick Perry’s spokesman said Wednesday that first lady Anita Perry is 'pro-life' and any suggestion to the contrary 'is simply ludicrous.' At issue were comments the first lady of Texas made Saturday at the Texas Tribune Festival in a public interview with Evan Smith, president and CEO of the Texas Tribune, in which she sounded a bit more live-and-let-live than doctrinaire on abortion. … On Wednesday, Perry spokesman Lucy Nashed said, 'The first lady made it very clear on Saturday that she is pro-life and does not agree with those who choose to undergo an abortion. She was responding to a very specific question, not discussing policy and any attempt to make this more than that is simply ludicrous.'"

•    Leader of Castro recall effort wants Chan's seat (San Antonio Express-News): "This is Weston Martinez's predicament: The council member in your North Side district has decided to step down and City Council will soon appoint a temporary replacement. It's a seat you've coveted for years, and now it's available. The only glitch is that you're presently spearheading the effort to recall half the people on the dais (OK, I'm exaggerating; it's just Mayor Julián Castro and Councilman Diego Bernal), whose votes you would need for that appointment."

Quote to Note: "Cruz said he would deliver the votes and he didn’t deliver any Democratic votes. He pushed House Republicans into traffic and wandered away." — Anti-tax activist Grover Norquist in an interview with The Washington Post


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