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Wendy Davis: Yes, She Can

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But the fact is that Texas tipped almost a quarter-century ago. And then it tipped back.

Of course, there are differences between Wendy Davis and Ann Richards.

And, yes, of course, a lot has changed since 1990. The old Democratic courthouse establishment in all those Texas counties has, in many instances, become the new Republican courthouse establishment. The population of Texas has grown dramatically, and the demographics have shifted dramatically.

Some old truths remain, however.

Politics is supposed to be exciting. It is supposed to mean something. It is supposed to present real choices -- choices that matter enough to get people to the polls.

Ann Richards practiced the politics of high expectations and high turnouts.

There is good reason to believe that Wendy Davis can do the same.

Yes, of course, Davis will be attacked -- crudely, viciously. And, though she has a significant fund-raising network in Texas and nationally, Davis will be outspent. Dramatically.

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There is no way she will win by running a cautious or apologetic campaign.

There is no way she will win by trying to identify the mythical center of Texas politics. As Jim Hightower, who won two statewide elections in Texas in the 1980s, reminds us, "There's nothing in the middle of the road but yellow stripes and dead armadillos."

The key to the 2014 election in Texas is going to be turnout. And the key to turnout is excitement, drama, a sense that something new is possible. Or, perhaps, something old.

Texas Democrats have not prevailed in a gubernatorial race since Ann Richards won an uphill contest in which many suggested she did not have a chance. But Texas Democrats have not has a candidate with the record, the determination and the popular appeal Ann Richards since then. Now, perhaps, they do.

Katha Pollitt calls Wendy Davis her "superhero" after Davis's bold abortion-bill filibuster.

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John Nichols, a pioneering political blogger, has written the Online Beat since 1999. His posts have been circulated internationally, quoted in numerous books and mentioned in debates on the floor of Congress.

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