If Washington was reeling on Tuesday, the vertigo may have stemmed from something rare: blunt honesty from the mouth of an elected official.
It occurred as Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin, head of the Democratic Governors Assn., detailed for reporters the group’s target races this year.
Top tier: Maine, Pennsylvania, Florida. Second tier: Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin. Fingers crossed: South Carolina, Georgia, Kansas, Arizona.
Notably absent was one of the supposed marquee races of 2014, Democrat Wendy Davis’ effort to derail Republican Greg Abbott in Texas.
Shumlin sent an unmistakable signal that the moneyed organization had better places to place its dough.
“We all understand Democrats haven’t won Texas in a long time,” he said, after a reporter noted that Texas had not been included among his targeted states.
Davis, a state senator from Fort Worth, became a liberal siren after her multi-hour, tennis-shoed filibuster against abortion restrictions in her home state. Fundraisers followed in the salons of the Democratic wealthy.
But the problem has always been the vote in Waco, not West L.A. Democrats have not elected a governor in Texas for more than two decades, among a long unbroken win streak by Republicans in statewide contests. A victory would require a matchless campaign by the Democrat and a fumbling one by the Republican. The reality has been almost the opposite.
[Updated 2:59 p.m. PST. April 29: Responding to Shumlin’s comments, Davis campaign manager Karin Johanson told the San Antonio Express-News that “the uninformed opinions of a Washington, D.C., desk jockey who’s never stepped foot in Texas couldn’t be less relevant to what’s actually happening on the ground.”
A campaign official later said that the reference was to “whoever at the DGA prepared the governor’s talking points.”]
Over the long term, Democratic hopes in Texas rest, as they do elsewhere in the West and South, on demography and the unyielding growth of minority and young voters who embrace the party. But that’s a tough audience to inspire and seems unlikely to force the state to flip this year at least: Abbott leads by double digits in recent public polls.
Western Democrats got a second elbow to the ribs when Shumlin was asked about Nevada, the increasingly Democratic state in presidential elections, where Republican Brian Sandoval is running virtually untouched for a second term as chief executive.
“We don’t believe we’re going to win in Nevada, and we’re not going to spend any money there,” he said, effectively writing off the state.
Times staff writer David Lauter contributed from Washington.