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Sarah Davis’ balancing act

As it will be for many of her Republican colleagues, especially in Harris County, 2018 is a challenging year for Rep. Sarah Davis.

Rep. Sarah Davis

To understand how Republican state Rep. Sarah Davis plans to survive a possible Democratic blue wave in her House district, consider the front lawn of Jeanne and Michael Maher.

Like several others in their neighborhood near West University Place, the Mahers have staked yard signs in front of their house for two political candidates of opposing parties: U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, the El Paso Democrat running for Senate, and Davis, a moderate, pro-choice conservative.

“It is a Republican-dominated Legislature, it will continue to be a Republican-dominated Legislature, and I would like to have someone who would be pulling some of the Republicans in the other direction,” Michael Maher said, explaining his support for Davis.

The 65-year-old Rice University energy researcher described himself as a moderate unmoored by party affiliation.

If the blue wave does wash over Texas, Davis might be the Republican best equipped to withstand it. She represents a swing district in an affluent section of Houston that voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016, and for Republican Gov. Greg Abbott in 2014.

I would bet a considerable sum of money that Sarah Davis will run well ahead of the Republican baseline in HD134. You know who else once ran well ahead of her party’s baseline in HD134? Former Rep. Ellen Cohen, that’s who. She lost to Davis in the tsunami of 2010, as even her ability to get crossovers was not enough. Davis has the advantage of running in a district that leans Republican. She has the disadvantage of being roundly despised by the billionaire-coddlers and raving lunatics in her party, who may for their own perverse reasons want to see a Democrat take the seat.

My guess is that she hangs on, and assuming she does so again in 2020 there will be an interesting dilemma for Republicans when it comes time to redraw the district lines. They could do like they’ve tried to do to Rep. Lloyd Doggett in Congress and simply erase her district altogether, perhaps distributing some of her voters to HDs 135 and 138 to shore them up and adding the rest to Democratic districts. My guess is that if they do that they would then draw a new red district in the western/northwestern part of the county. That would have the dual effect of ridding themselves of someone they find troublesome, and swapping a swing district for a less-swingy one, while helping out some other Republicans. The traditional and collegial thing would be to tinker around the edges of HD134 to make it a little redder, as they did in 2011, and of course they could do that. The fact that this is even a possibility to contemplate is kind of amazing, but these are the things that can happen when your own Governor wants you out.

(Note – if Allison Lami Sawyer defeats her, or if a different Dem knocks off Davis in 2020, it’s a sure thing that Republicans do what they can to make this district redder. It’s the one thing I had to console myself after Cohen’s loss in 2010, that there was no way the Republicans were going to give her a district she could win in 2012. One way or another, I think we are in the waning days of what we now know as HD134.)

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3 Comments

  1. Mainstream says:

    I don’t share your apocalyptic vision. The voters who reside in HD134 are not going anywhere. Whether the district keeps its configuration, or whether those voters are placed into Bohac’s or Murphy’s or Coleman’s district, they will have impact affecting what sort of legislators go to Austin. The more likely scenario is that the district is merely tinkered with, because to do differently would require major changes in adjacent districts, which could have the effect of placing incumbents who adjoin Sarah’s district HD134 at risk to hold onto their own seats.

  2. Ellen Cohen couldn’t figure out simple paid maternity leave as CEO at Houston Area Womens Center after 18 years on the job.

    So it shouldn’t be surprising that her time in the legislature or city council lacks any real ideas for working families.

    To be fair women have held leadership positions in houston in nonprofits, public office and fortune 500 companies for decade(s). But they still can’t figure out a $15 minimum wage and paid parental leave.

    That’s probably why Jonita Reynolds needed my ideas off my cover letter and white paper while Angela Blanchard and Laura Moser had to ask me for ideas i googled.

  3. TexMex Dude says:

    I saw an interest Tweet from a local Empower Texans activist that resides in HD134 a couple of days ago. It was asking if any “conservatives in 134 plan to UNDERVOTE?”. Whenever she is NOT targeted by the far left, she is targeted by the far right. It will be a huge loss for the Tx Legislature if Sarah Davis gets knocked off from her seat – either during the primaries or the general election. She must be doing something right due to the (futile) efforts that have been made to get rid of her.