Was 2014 the year of the Un–Bum Steer? So many of our usual suspects behaved themselves (more or less) that we wondered if something was amiss. Texas A&M didn’t do anything too Aggie-like, the Dallas Cowboys were actually in the playoff hunt for a change, and Matthew McConaughey minded his p’s and q’s while picking up an Oscar along the way.
Thankfully, politics didn’t let us down. Governor Rick Perry was indicted by a grand jury for abusing his power and coercing a public servant, and he celebrated having his mug shot taken with a jaunt to buy frozen custard. Good ol’ Louie Gohmert, the Republican congressman from Tyler, offered up plenty of laughs—intentional or otherwise—which made us think he was in on the joke. But nothing, and we mean nothing, could match the train wreck that was Wendy Davis, Battleground Texas, and the Democrats.
No one suggested that 2014 would be the year that the party roared back to life. No one argued that the Democrats would put the Republicans in a tough spot come Election Day. But did anyone think that Davis, after all the national exposure and all the money that flowed into her coffers, would be throttled so badly by Republican Greg Abbott in her race to become governor? In the end, she lost by more percentage points than Tony Sanchez did in 2002. And she won 270,499 fewer votes than Bill White did in 2010 in his doomed effort against Perry. It’s not that the Democrats underperformed. It’s that the party that hasn’t won a statewide race since 1994 actually dug itself an even deeper hole!
For Davis, her campaign started poorly—this magazine compared her rollout to the debut of the Bag o’ Glass from Mainway Toys—and things seemed to only go downhill from there. Infighting! Staff shake-ups! Tension with the press! Missteps over her own biography! And to add insult to injury, after the dust had settled, the state Senate seat she gave up to run against Abbott was claimed by a Republican. Davis may be out of politics for now, but she didn’t walk away empty-handed: she is our Bum Steer of the Year.