The Challenges Ahead for Wendy Davis

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What are the main challenges for the Wendy Davis campaign? Aside from the basic math of a statewide election, that is? Well, according to one trusted Democratic operative, the biggest is “to get everyone to swim in the same direction.” For instance, should Battleground Texas give up its identity and just be part of the Davis campaign? Perhaps the biggest mistake the Democrats have made was to roll out Battleground as an Obama-related organization.

Another issue is how Steve Mostyn will fit into Wendy world. Readers may recall from the 2010 governor’s race that Mostyn went off on his own, airing negative TV spots against Rick Perry, calling him a coward for refusing to debate. That was a waste of money. Perry is many things, but a coward is not one of them. Another issue for the Davis campaign, at least according to the operative I spoke with, is whether the campaign should be located in Fort Worth or Austin. The operative believes it should be in Austin, the political crossroads of Texas where the press corps just happens to be located. One piece of good news for the Democrats is that “the voter file is in good shape,” thanks to a heavy turnout in the 2008 primary election. The operative also expressed concern that people in the campaign have a tendency toward defensiveness, to show excessive concern about what they are going to be attacked for, rather than defining the Davis operation as a bold campaign that looks forward instead of over its shoulder.

All this boils down to one question: Who’s in charge here? The hiring of Karin Johanson is a necessary action for the Davis campaign, and one that will give it enhanced credibility. The presence of Johanson should bring discipline to the Davis campaign. I’m not suggesting that it doesn’t have discipline, just that discipline is needed. Johanson is perhaps best known as the executive director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in 2006, when her party took back the House of Representatives.

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