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The Best and Worst Legislators 2009

THE WORST: Representative Yvonne Davis

Dallas

Her nickname around the Capitol—“Why, Vonne?”—says it all. Why, when she was one of only sixteen Democrats to be named a committee chair, did she fly into a rage and threaten to reject the offer before relenting? Why did she treat her vice chairman like a leper by not allowing him to occupy the customary seat next to the chairman? Why did she persist in killing the local bills of colleagues she perceived had done her wrong?

The common theme of these and other Davis tantrums is an overweening sense of entitlement. She had sought the chairmanship of a powerful committee, but someone with her experience should have known she was aiming too high; in a Republican-majority House with a Republican Speaker, she wasn’t going to get either. She attempted to kill two local bills by Republican Lois Kolkhorst, of Brenham, the chair of the Public Health Committee, because she hadn’t gotten a hearing on a bill she wanted to pass—but Kolkhorst had given her hearings on three other bills. She hasn’t learned a fundamental lesson of politics, as expounded by the Rolling Stones: You can’t always get what you want.

Don’t mistake lack of restraint for lack of talent. When the co-authors of a major transportation bill lost control of the floor debate, it was Davis who stepped forward to blow the whistle. But her best moments are undone by her worst, leaving a familiar question hanging in the air: Why, Vonne?

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