The distance between Columbus, Ohio and Austin, Texas is a little over 1,200 miles, so what does the announcement Thursday by Texas State Senator Wendy Davis that she's running for governor in the Lone Star State have to do with Ohio Governor John Kasich's chances for re-election next year?
Maybe more than meets the eye.
If a once little known state senator like Wendy Davis, who at age 50 found friends and followers when she delivered a filibuster against a harsh anti-abortion bill the Texas legislature was ready to pass and Gov. Rick Perry was eager to sign, can be elected governor in Texas, following Perry's three elected terms in office, by harnessing the power of female voters angry and upset with lawmakers obsessed with controlling their health rights, what happens in Texas may not stay in Texas.
The Texas model could become the Ohio model with enough money to spur more women voters to turnout to install candidates who support them rather than politicians who make their lives more difficult.
Adding to the excitement of Davis' campaign news today is the plan underway by Democratic and progressive political groups, especially Organizing For America, President Obama's mighty campaign machine from last year, to convert a big red state like Texas into a big blue state. For national elections at least, if Democrats can capture the Lone Star State's 38 electoral votes in 2016, when Hillary Clinton is expected to be the Democratic candidate for president, Republicans may have to wait until 2024, following two terms by Clinton, for their next shot at the White House.
The Texas population is expected to keep growing as minorities and Hispanics increase their numbers against a shrinking population of white voters. Republicans continue to misfire on with these important voter blocks on issues from immigration to inequality to minority rights. The GOP also risks losing women, whose health care rights and constitutional access to abortion have come under attack by one Republican governor and one Republican legislature after another.
In this regard, Texas and Ohio might as well be neighbors, because both states have Republican governors and legislatures that who have passed and signed laws restrictive to women on access to Planned Parenthood services, contraception and abortion services.
In Ohio, during his three years on the job, Gov. Kasich, 61 years old, has signed many bills that unfairly impact women, and prominent among them was his last biennial budget that contains provisions never discussed in committee that were tossed into the budget behind closed doors at the 11th hour. Gov. Kasich issued 22 budget bill vetoes, but not one of them struck down the anti-women laws.
Tapping women voters could be the winning margin for Davis in Texas, whereas losing them in Ohio could be Kasich's Achilles Heel. Having won his election in 2010 by only 77,127 votes statewide, it may be Gov. Kasich's election to lose, and here's how that happens. Since 2010, his Tea Party base has abandoned him, attributable primarily to his decision to expand Medicaid, the federal/state government funded program for low-income women and children that the U.S. Supreme Court, in its historic decision last summer that declared the Affordable Care Act and the controversial individual mandate in it constitutional, gave the states the option to decline.
Gov. Kasich enjoys talking about his Ohio Model as the economic plan other states should follow to create jobs and create wealth. Davis's candidacy will try to awaken women in Texas, and maybe other states, like never before as she appeals to her gender and voters sympathetic to that ordeal to unify to make a difference. Davis has been outspoken in her advocacy for abortion rights, a stark contrast with the official expected to beat her, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, a strict antiabortionist.
A recent poll conducted for the Texas Lyceum, a nonpartisan, nonprofit group, showed Abbott leads Davis 29 percent to 21 percent. Half of the voters polled said they “don’t know” who they will support.
By percentage, women outnumber men in registration and voting in Ohio and nationwide, a trend that is expected to continue, making courting women voters a must, especially for an underdog like Davis.
Ohio's underdog is Ed FitzGerald, a Democrat from Cleveland, where he serves as the first elected executive of the refashioned county government structure.
What irritates Kasich these days are results of an August 2013 Public Policy Polling survey showing the little known FitzGerald holds a three point lead over him, despite his go-go CEO- governing style.
Kasich, like Abbott in Texas, is expected to not want for money, whereas questions about the viability of Davis in Texas and FitzGerald in Ohio center on their fundraising capacity.
Commenting on the Davis' announcement today, Cecile Richards, a nationally respected leader in the field of women's health and reproductive rights and the president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said "women have had enough" in states like Texas and Virginia, where Democratic candidate Terry McKauliffe is leading his Republican challenger due in part to support from women.
Early on in his administration, Gov. Kasich was roundly criticized for having as few women as he did in leadership positions. Kasich appeared as tone deaf to women in his cabinet as Mitt Romney appeared when in one debate with President Obama he recalled that as the new Governor of Massachusetts he asked for "binders of women" candidates from which his team would pick.
At a rally Wednesday at Capital Square at the Statehouse in Columbus, a crowd of mostly women that included Francis Strickland, wife of former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland, turned out to hear speakers including Kellie Copeland of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, Terry O'Neill of NOW and Ellie Smeal of the Feminist Majority, all of whom oppose abortion restrictions included in the state budget.
Copeland drew large applause, saying, "We will not go back."
Subscribe. It's ALWAYS free. Send news or tips to firstname.lastname@example.org. join me on Google+, Pinterest or Twitter, or watch my YouTube videos.