Last week, amid a host of questions about her ideological commitment and personal integrity, Texas Democrat Wendy Davis revealed a new, unexpected issue on her campaign platform: securing Second Amendment rights. The move has been met with some outrage from Democrats who see “no justification” for open carry laws.
Davis first announced her new stance last week to the Associated Press, suggesting that her campaign would “expand where people may carry handguns.” The position is not on Davis’s official campaign platform, and, from a legislator with an “F” rating from the NRA, appeared to surface out of nowhere. Davis did note that she wanted to expand background checks and training requirements to prevent any accidents should the law allow for more guns in Texans’ lives.
The Democrats approached by the AP seem to feel the position surfaced suddenly as well. Democrats in Texas oppose any new law expanding “open carry” of handguns. A spokesperson for the Texas Democratic Party emphasized that the official party stance explicitly rejects the idea of open carry, arguing that there is “little or no public safety justification” for such a law.
Pro-gun groups seem equally perplexed by Davis’s new stance. Texas State Rifle Association spokeswoman Alice Tripp called Davis an “opportunist,” citing her record with the NRA and her legislative history against guns. She was not the only one who seemed less than enthusiastic about welcoming Davis to the battle for the Second Amendment.
The position would align Davis with her Republican opponent, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott. Abbott, who announced this week it was “time to move on” from Davis’s numerous scandals and that he would only discuss his policy proposals with the media, amassed triple the funding as Davis in the past month, the distance in support widening as Davis has taken hits for numerous scandals. Davis has blamed Abbott for the exposure of several falsehoods in the official version of her life story: she was not a “single teen mother,” as she divorced at 21, and she did not pay for most of her education–her ex-husband took out a loan and cashed out a 401(k) to help her. Despite the facts laid bare, Davis has neither apologized nor corrected her errors, instead calling it “absurd” that anyone would claim she was lying.
Davis’s campaign has also suffered setbacks unrelated to her lying. Newspapers have questioned the integrity of her staff, and her law office is under an ethics investigation. What’s more, her media relations team has continually irritated members of the media, with one Texas reporter calling the effort “the worst I’ve ever seen.”
Davis’s seemingly casual relationship with the Democratic Party is also not a new development. She was a registered Republican for most years before running for local office in Fort Worth, leading many to question why she switched parties when she did. Upon being elected to public office, Davis continued to vote in Republican primaries and donated to the George W. Bush presidential campaign.
The opposition to gun control, however, is a new stance for Davis–and one she is pushing strongly for, image-wise. Davis appeared at a rally closed to the media with Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards, who lent Davis a rifle owned by her mother, former Texas Governor Ann Richards. The resulting photo-op did little to assuage the concerns of the pro-gun lobby, and it won her no points with Democrats either.