Can those 15-minutes of fame take off like a rocket or what? The latest example last week was our own Sen. Wendy Davis, whose filibuster of an abortion bill became a national and social media phenomenon. How long will it last? For those of us in the media, Davis’ story is fairly well-known, but the Cliff Notes version is that she began working after school at age 14 to help support her single mother and three siblings, according to her campaign website. She went to Tarrant County College, then transferred to Texas Christian University. She went on to graduate with honors from Harvard Law School at the age of 33. After being defeated once in a run for Fort Worth City Council, she won a council seat before upsetting an incumbent Republican for a seat in the state Senate. I haven’t had too much interaction with Davis, though as a councilmember she represented my old stomping ground on the south side. Her early years in politics, both on the council and in the state Senate coincided with the growth of the Barnett Shale. She occasionally proposed or supported legislation viewed with alarm by many energy industry officials. They’re easily alarmed, I should add. Around the same time, the Fort Worth Business Press sponsored several Energy Forums, usually with a theme. At one, we focused on legislation and invited Davis to speak. She accepted and we all wondered what kind of reception she would receive. While we had an audience composed of a variety of viewpoints, most were involved in the energy industry. This was, I should point out, before movies like Gasland made fracking a cause celeb, but it was still a fractious issue, no pun intended. We had a smorgasbord of points of view on the panel, but Davis was the lone Democrat. I was the Master of Ceremonies for these early morning events, so I got to introduce everyone and handle the questions. I introduced her and sat down. She was tremendous. I can’t recall who else was on the panel that morning, but you couldn’t forget Davis. Even those who I knew opposed her left the room that morning respecting her. What did she do? For one thing, she was prepared. Maybe it was her Harvard Law School education, but she knew the issues from right, left, center, north, south, east and west. She also told the energy industry officials there straight up that they needed to get ready. It was coming, she said. A lot of citizens didn’t understand their business and they were going to propose all sorts of rules that made no sense simply because they didn’t understand the industry. She was spot on. While standing during the filibuster, Davis wore pink running shoes that have now become a symbol of her battle. That day at the Energy Forum as she demonstrated her array of elegantly-wielded political skills to a roomful of doubters, skeptics and admirers, she wore some fuchsia (I believe) shoes that perfectly matched her outfit. She knew the issues and she knew how to accessorize. No wonder she’s living out her 15 minutes and maybe more.
In Market is a column written from the perspective of a plugged-in business journalist about business happenings in and around Tarrant County. Got an idea for In Market? Robert Francis can be reached at email@example.com.