Texas Gov. Rick Perry points at himself.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry
The fight over Texas' sweeping anti-abortion bill is about women's lives, obviously. But it's also about the political futures of the parties and politicians seeking either to close clinics and sharply limit abortions or to keep decisions about this legal medical procedure in the hands of women and their doctors. For several of the Republicans pushing this bill in a state that has already passed a lot of restrictions on women's access to abortion, it's about appealing to Texas Republican primary voters by showing that they are the most extreme.

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, for instance, faces the threat of a primary from the right as he runs for reelection, and:

"Not only does he have to pass the anti-abortion legislation, but he has to do so in an efficient and a timely manner," said Mark Jones, chairman of the political science department at Rice University. "If, by some stretch of the imagination, this legislation did not pass, Dewhurst should not even bother to run for re-election."
Expect to see him trying to rush this thing through, so that that, and not his failure to shut Wendy Davis up, is what primary voters remember. For Gov. Rick Perry, meanwhile, being the macho man condescending to and dominating women in a fight on his home turf may be just the thing to revive his national image—among Republican primary voters, and them alone—and dim memories of his "oops" of a 2012 presidential campaign.

Democrats have several tasks. If possible, they want once again to delay until the special session is over. That's probably not possible, though, given that Republicans are more united around the bill and are leading the special session with it. Failing that, Democrats can use the debate over the bill to lay the groundwork for a court challenge. Democrats are also, of course, using this fight to try to push Texas purple a little bit earlier, mobilizing women voters and Latino voters to vote, and vote Democratic, thanks to heavyhanded Republican tactics here and opposition to immigration reform and so many other things that have not been endearing Republicans to voters other than white men.

For now, though, the question is how heavyhanded will Republicans be. Will David Dewhurst be pushed by that feared primary challenge to run over Democratic attempts to delay—and, in running over them, will he help build the case against the bill in court? Will Rick Perry continue to offend by mansplaining Wendy Davis's life to her? And by doing so, will he help motivate her into challenging him in 2014?

What's certain is that Democrats, and a host of activists and advocacy organizations, are ready for the fight. And let's take that fight right to Rick Perry: by drafting Wendy Davis to run for governor.

Originally posted to Laura Clawson on Tue Jul 02, 2013 at 07:01 AM PDT.

Also republished by Sluts, Pro Choice, Abortion, and Daily Kos.

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