Dave Carney, longtime advisor to the Texas attorney general and potential GOP nominee for governor Greg Abbott, believes Texas Sen. Wendy Davis is “too stupid to be governor.” Carney, who also served as top advisor to current Gov. Rick Perry’s thankfully failed presidential campaign, consequently tweeted a link to an article that aggressively attempts to undermine the respect politician, who was educated at Harvard Law School, has earned. Carney’s feeble challenge of the longtime Democrat does little to bolster his own image, but does present an interesting question — what would an overwhelmingly Republican state look like with a staunch Democrat as governor?
Wyoming provides one answer. In 2002, Democrat Dave Freudenthal was elected governor of the midwestern state after two years of hard fought campaigning. Although Wyoming is, admittedly, much smaller than Texas in most respects, it has a similar conservative. Freudenthal was appointed Wyoming District Attorney by former President Bill Clinton and endorsed President Barack Obama in his 2008 campaign.
Political biases notwithstanding, Freudenthal is considered one of the most successful governors Wyoming has had. During six of his eight years, Wyoming experienced the highest revenue in its history — a consequence of his astute political acumen. He did not drastically alter Wyoming’s conservative trajectory — a difficult task when almost 87 percent of Wyoming’s state legislature is Republican — but did inch the state closer to the center. His two terms provided a much-needed counterpoint to Wyoming politics, and probably more significantly, boosted morale of the state’s undervalued Democratic Party.
While it would be ideal if Davis won — her politics would provide a refreshing change of pace to Texas’ tired rationale — it is unlikely. Davis is a Democrat of the New York variety. She feels strongly and thinks progressively. Her highly publicized, 11-hour-long June filibuster of Texas’ proposed anti-abortion law exemplified both traits and made her an overnight superstar in most places, if not unanimously in Texas. Her recent crusade for stricter policies toward gun control, which Carney has issues with, further lessens her chances.
Texas may never elect Davis as governor, but the publicity of her potential candidacy would garner could be a boon for her party-mates. When Freudenthal was elected governor, Wyoming needed balance. Now, in light of Perry’s extreme views, Texas needs balance. Davis may not be the right candidate for the top spot — she is too left and she knows it — but she should run anyway. Carney maliciously quipped last month, “God, I hope she runs, it’ll be great. I don’t see her brand of populism … being a selling job in Texas.” If galvanizing the Texas Democratic Party to action isn’t enough reason to run, then an opportunity to spite Carney should be.
A version of this article appeared in the Wednesday, Sept. 18 print edition. Omar Etman is a contributing columnist. Email him at [email protected]