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AUSTIN, Texas–Polls show Texas statewide Republicans are holding or expanding their lead over their Democrat opponents while the Wendy Davis Gubernatorial Campaign announced it is shaking up its management tree again. This time Davis is replacing the campaign manager, Karin Johanson. Democrat Texas State Representative Chris Turner (D-Arlington) will now take his turn at the helm of the Davis campaign ship which has a history of running aground from time to time.
The University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll released June 12 shows Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, the Republican gubernatorial nominee, with a twelve point lead over Davis. The continued double digit lead continues to play havoc on Davis struggling staff issues.
In an email to the Davis campaign staff obtained by TalkingPointsMemo.com, Johnson said, “A few weeks ago I suggested to Senator Davis that she reach out to Representative Chris Turner to lead the campaign to election day. Chris has managed tough Texas races and as member of the Texas House is respected across the state for his smarts and common sense.”
The change in leadership comes after the Davis campaign shot itself in the foot by announcing to the world that the Democrat Governor’s Association (DGA) didn’t think her campaign was winnable enough to be listed on its “Top Target” list of campaigns the DGA would be putting their full effort behind. DGA Chairman and Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin said, “We’re hopeful in Texas but we all understand that Democrats haven’t won Texas in a long time,” according to a Wall Street Journal report on April 29th.
The top tier of their list includes Florida and Pennsylvania along with second tier states, Wisconsin, Ohio and Michigan. Breitbart Texas could not determine just how far down the DGA list the Davis campaign in Texas had fallen.
Reacting to the rejection by the DGA, Johanson said, “The uninformed opinions of a Washington, DC desk jockey who’s never stepped foot in Texas couldn’t be less relevant to what’s actually happening on the ground.” The Davis campaign backtracked quickly and communications director Zac Petkanas explained Johanson was speaking about “whoever at the DGA prepared the governor’s talking points,” according to an April 29th article byTalkingPointsMemo. Johanson is herself a Washington D.C. consultant who joined Davis’ campaign in October.
The Austin American-Statesman called the move on Wednesday, a “major shake-up” in the campaign’s leadership. As to Chris Turner’s campaign experience, the Statesmanreferred to it as not extensive. Turner served as Congressman Chet Edwards campaign manager in 2002, 2004 and 2006. His own campaigns for state representative were a mixed bag of success and failure. After winning a legislative seat in 2008, Turner lost his re-election bid in 2010 and then regained his seat in 2012. He now faces a Libertarian Party opponent in the 2014 election.
Even the left-wing MSNBC called the move a “last-ditch effort” to turn her campaign around admitting her poll numbers continue to sink. “Abbott has been polling roughly 12 points ahead of Davis, according to Real Clear Politics’ average, and Davis’s campaign struggles to close the gap,” said MSNBC reporter Jane C. Timm. In a readership-poll on MSNBC asking readers if they thought Davis could close the gap between her and Abbott, 45 percent answered either with a “no” or “it’s too soon to tell.”
“Davis faces an uphill battle against state Attorney General Greg Abbott in the red state’s race for governor,” said Politico reporter Katie Glueck in what might be the understatement of the day.
“Davis reshuffled her communications staff earlier this year, replacing chief spokesman Bo Delp with Zac Petkanas, a former aide to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid,” according to Glueck.” She also added a rapid-response director, Lauren Weiner from the Washington-based Americans United for Change, in April.”
In the other statewide races, the UT/Texas Tribune poll shows State Senator Dan Patrick leading in the race for Lt. Governor over Democrat State Senator Leticia Van de Putte by a fifteen point margin of 41 percent to 26 percent.
State Senator Ken Paxton holds a 13 point lead in the race for Attorney General over Democrat attorney Sam Houston. The polling indicates a 40 percent to 27 percent advantage to Paxton.
For Land Commissioner, Republican George P. Bush holds an eleven point lead over his Democrat rival, John Cook. The polling resulted in a much higher undecided return with the candidates splitting the vote 36 percent to 25 percent respectively.
In the State Comptroller race, State Senator Glenn Hegar shows a seven point lead over Democrat Mike Collier. The polling indicates Hegar at 32 percent while Collier is polling 25 percent.
Former State Senator Sid Miller shows an eight point lead over Democrat challenger Jim Hogan, 32 percent versus 24 percent. Ryan Sitton holds and identical lead over his Democrat challenger Steve Brown in the race for Texas Railroad Commissioner.
Full details of the poll are provided in the attachment below.
The tribune also noted Republicans are looking at a potential Texas House district seat pickup as State Rep. Ron Reynolds prepares for a possible trial on felony charges. Breitbart Texas previously reported that Reynolds is facing ten felony charges of alleged barratry (aka ambulance chasing). His Republican challenger, David Hamilton could possibly take over the Missouri City seat long held by Democrats.
The Texas Tribune poll was conducted from May 30 through June 8. This period overlaps with the timing of the Republican Party of Texas state convention in Fort Worth.
Bob Price is a staff writer and a member of the original Breitbart Texas team. Follow him on Twitter @BobPriceBBTX.
Secretary Johnson Letter From Abbott