US midterm elections: 'Democrat darling' Wendy Davis loses in Texas


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The Independent US

For a short while, Wendy Davis seemed like the Democratic party’s best chance to turn the dark red state of Texas a shade of purple. But last night Ms Davis’s political rise was abruptly reversed as she lost the race to be the Lone Star state’s next governor by a vast margin. Her Republican opponent, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, triumphed by as much as 17 per cent, according to an early vote projection by the Associated Press.

Ms Davis, who is 51, achieved national prominence last year after she spent 11 hours standing on the floor of the state senate, filibustering a strict new abortion bill. Overnight, the state senator became a pro-choice champion and a Democrat darling, whose supporters believed she might attract a coalition of women, young people and minorities sufficient to carry her to the Governor’s mansion. It was not to be.

Instead, Mr Abbott maintained a double-digit poll lead for much of the race, and Ms Davis’s campaign was dogged by disappointments. Her opponents questioned details of her bootstrapping backstory, and criticised her campaign’s mention of Mr Abbott’s wheelchair in a television ad. (Mr Abbott is a paraplegic.) Even her recent memoir, Forgetting to be Afraid, was a flop.


Ms Davis and Mr Abbott were competing to succeed Republican Governor Rick Perry, who has been in office since 2000 and is thought to be considering a second tilt at the US presidency. The contest was nasty, not to mention expensive, with major campaign groups from both sides of the political divide mobilising on behalf of the candidates. Ms Davis’s bid was backed, for example, by Battleground Texas, an organisation founded by former Obama campaign workers looking to boost Democrat turnout in the state.