Democratic legislative candidates lost most of their races on election night, but there were two notable exceptions. One was Wendy Davis’s victory over Mark Shelton in the race for a Tarrant County Senate seat. With 228 of 349 precincts reporting, and only 6 outstanding, Davis had an insurmountable lead. The other bright spot for Democrats was that Galveston state representative Craig Eiland won his reelection race. And that is the extent of the good news.
The results were reminiscent of 2010, when Democrats lost every Texas House race as Republicans claimed a super-majority of the lower House. Still, Davis’s victory should temper Republicans’ enthusiasm at their near-sweep. She is precisely the kind of candidate who mirrors the Obama constituency, someone who can put together a coalition that goes outside the boundaries of race and color and party—the type of candidate, in other words, who represents the changing face of Texas (and America). Her victory propels her to prominence as one of the state’s leading Democrats. She is a rare politician who has crossover appeal to Republicans and independents. She defeated Shelton despite his support from the deep pockets of Texans for Lawsuit Reform.
Davis was not the only election night winner who represents the changing face of Texas. There was also Ted Cruz who is poised to become … what, exactly? That’s the question. Tea party zealot? Or another symbol of that “changing face?” I would also add to this list Pete Gallego, who won a grueling battle to represent Texas’s 23rd congressional district, and Julian and Joaquin Castro. Davis…Cruz…Gallego, the Castro twins: suddenly Rick Perry seems light years away from where America, and Texas, is headed.