Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis has spent the past two weeks working feverishly to pivot the political conversation away from her biographical falsehoods and towards issues that matter to Texans. After infuriating Democrats with a surprise pro-gun stance this week, Davis is now coming out for medical marijuana.
In her endorsement interview with the editorial staff of the Dallas Morning News, Davis revealed that she was in favor of legalizing medical marijuana and even decriminalizing small amounts of the drug used recreationally. While the position is popular with many Democrats, Davis began her answer by praising Republican Governor Rick Perry, who had discussed in a talk in Davos a move “toward decriminalization.”
She said she found his comments “reasonable,” noting both the social price and “the cost to the taxpayers” of keeping marijuana offenders incarcerated. Medical marijuana, however, was another issue: “I personally believe that medical marijuana should be allowed for. I don’t know where the state is on that, as a population. Certainly as governor I think it’s important to be deferential to whether the state of Texas feels that it’s ready for that.”
While leaving room to change her mind should voters not be on the same page as her on the matter, Davis also stated that she would have voted in ways consistent with decriminalization in the Texas Senate. Davis replied to the editorial board that she would have voted in favor of a bill to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana should it have come her way in the state Senate.
As for a complete overhaul of the state law to legalize the drug, Davis said she has yet to form an opinion because “I want to wait and see what happens in Colorado.” She did not have a “philosophical” objection to legalization of marijuana, but noted that there were certain criminal issues she would like to see play out before she holds a solid opinion on the matter, particularly with driving under the influence of marijuana.
Reporter Rodger Jones noted that the answers to the board’s marijuana questions were diplomatic and open-ended enough both to be amended and to gain Davis votes. He also gives Governor Perry credit for discussing the situation at all and providing Davis with “safe harbor” to talk about decriminalization, something he predicts Davis would not have discussed the matter without.
As with many of the key positions making headlines for the Davis campaign since it was revealed there were multiple factual inaccuracies in her biographical profile, her stance on marijuana appears nowhere on her official website. Her stance on the issue brings her back closer to the tenets of the Democratic Party after veering very far off course with her support of open carry of arms in public places. That attempt brought her criticism from both the Democrats and pro-gun rights groups, who called her an “opportunist” and noted her “F” rating from the NRA as a legislator. It also gave detractors this image of a clumsy Davis holding up the gun that once belonged to another Democratic Texas governor, Ann Richards.
Davis continues to trail Republican opponent Greg Abbott, only drawing one third of the amount of campaign funds in the past month while spending into the six digits for luxury hotel suites. Losing the support of Democrats over one issue–especially given a tense record with the party after a lifetime of Republican Party membership–would be a death blow to an already weakened gubernatorial campaign.