By Anna M. Tinsley
Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
Wendy Davis is ready for a rough road to November.
The Fort Worth Democrat said she knows her bid to become Texas’ first female governor since Ann Richards won’t be easy.
“Politics is war,” she said Friday during an interview with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram Editorial Board, when asked how her gender comes into play. “I feel like I have a very legitimate candidacy.”
“For the first time, I think, in a long time, people in Texas believe we have the opportunity perhaps to elect someone with a D next to their name as our executive officer in this state,” she said. “And the folks who have been in charge for the last 20 years aren’t going to give that up without a fight.
“So I expect the next nine months, we’ll see more of the same.”
Davis, a former Fort Worth city councilwoman, and Republican Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott are perceived as the front-runners in the March primaries and are expected to face each other in the Nov. 4 general election battle that will determine Texas’ next governor.
The Star-Telegram’s Editorial Board has asked Abbott to speak to them, but they have yet to receive a response to the invitation.
Questions about Davis’ life story in recent weeks have drawn nearly as much attention as her filibuster did last year, when she spoke for around 11 hours trying to defeat a bill that banned abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy that ultimately was passed by the GOP-led legislature.
Abbott’s campaign initially said Davis had “intentionally and repeatedly deceived Texans for years about her background, yet she expects voters to indulge her fanciful narrative.”
But earlier this month Abbott told media that “it’s time to move beyond all this” and focus on issues of importance to Texans.
Davis spoke with the Star-Telegram’s editorial board for more than an hour Friday afternoon, detailing her stance on issues ranging from abortion regulations to education needs.
Stories have called into question some details of her life, which she has described as tough, getting pregnant in high school, then marrying and getting divorced. She has said she was a single mother living in a trailer park, ultimately pulling herself up by her bootstraps and earning not only a college degree but a law degree from Harvard as well.
“My life story is my life story,” Davis said. “I am who I am.”
“I’m forging ahead and working hard, talking about the alternative … for Texas, the vision I would bring, the values I would reflect and my priorities,” she said. “The priorities I have set and will continue to lay out over the next few months are reflective of the values of Texans because that’s who I am.”
Growing up in Tarrant County — struggling as a single mother, getting an education and finding help along that path from her second husband, former city councilman Jeff Davis — is all part of that story. That also includes serving on the City Council, divorcing again and ultimately seeking a post in the Texas Senate and now the job of Texas governor.
Part of what shaped her, she said, was her years serving on the Fort Worth City Council — without a partisan affiliation next to her name — and the years she led the council’s economic development committee, brokering deals to improve the city, boost development and bring new businesses to town.
Among the issues Davis spoke about Friday:
Casino gambling: She said she would let Texans once and for all weigh in on whether this is something that should be legalized in this state. “I’ve always said that issue should be decided by the voters of Texas,” Davis said. “I would advance the bill to voters.”
In recent years, as an increasing number Texans have driven to nearby states, spending billions of dollars playing machines and tables and dabbling in off-track betting, state lawmakers have repeatedly put proposals on the table to allow casinos in Texas.
Supporters maintain that casinos in Texas would keep those gamblers and their money in this state. Opponents have disagreed and prevented any such legislation from making its way to the House or Senate floor.
Ban on abortions: She has said she would have backed a ban on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy if parts of the law had been different. But the bill passed by the Republican-led legislature last year went too far regarding restrictions on clinics and doctor requirements.
The law, she said, didn’t leave decisions to a woman and her doctor.
“My position on that has not changed,” she said. “I don’t believe that the state can appropriately articulate the exceptions in the way that will really be able to capture the decisions and the challenges women face who make a decision post-20 weeks.”
“I don’t think they can really capture every situation a woman might face,” she said, referring to the recent local case of Marlise Muñoz, who was kept on life support in an attempt to let her fetus develop enough to be delivered.
Medical marijuana: She said she supports the use of medical marijuana and has said that, as governor, would think about decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana. But she said this is not part of her agenda, because she believes Texans have greater priorities.
Gun regulations: Davis earlier this month said she supports open-carry laws, which have long been supported by some Republicans, which would let Texans openly carry handguns they now, by law, must keep concealed.
She also said Friday that she believes universal background checks are “a good idea.”
Education: Davis has unveiled various planks of her education proposals, from trying to draw more teachers to public schools to creating a better gateway into the college arena. She said she plans to lay out the fourth plank of her plan in the coming weeks. At that time, she said she plans to law out the proposed cost for all of the initiatives, which is likely to be between $4 billion and $5 billion.