Wendy Davis Hires State Rep. Chris Turner as New Campaign Manager

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This morning, Wendy Davis' campaign for governor announced they would be changing campaign managers. Karin Johanson, the current campaign manager who started in October, will be stepping aside for sitting State Rep. Chris Turner of Arlington. No further details were given as to why Ms. Johanson is leaving, although if she helped pick Rep. Turner as her replacement, it would hint the coming transition is amicable.

Johanson has had a successful history as the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's Executive Director in 2006, campaign manager for then-Rep. Tammy Baldwin in Wisconsin successful bid for US Senate in 2012, and was a past political director of Emily's List. The difference between these posts and the job of electing Sen. Davis to the governorship of Texas, is those elections relied, mainly, on moving Democratic base voters in order to win. Sen. Davis has won the Texas Democratic base, it is now time to win the Texas electorate at large.

Enter Chris Turner. Turner worked for Democratic Congressman Chet Edwards of Waco starting in 2002. In that time, he managed Rep. Edwards 2002, 2004, and 2006 successful re-elections, including after the mid-decade redistricting which gave Rep. Edwards not only a new district with new voters, but one which was won by President George W. Bush with over 65% of the vote. In 2008, Turner won a seat in the Texas legislature in what, at the time, was a Republican leaning seat. The Austin American Statesman speculates:

“But the ousting a nationally known progressive like Johanson in favor of Turner, who has campaigned for a moderate Democrat, could signal that Davis might want to try to appeal more to middle-of-the-road voters, rather than to Texas' progressives.”

As the House Democratic Caucus Chair, Representative, and legislator, Chris Turner has been one of Texas Democrats' most loyal, vocal, and active members and he has been an unwavering defender for progressive ideals.

Chris Turner today represents House District 101 in Tarrant County, a heavily Democratic district, and will continue to run for re-election. He faces only a Libertarian opponent this November.

Read the official press release from the Davis camp and learn more about Rep. Turner after the jump.The press release sent out this morning reads as follows:

FORT WORTH, TX: Today, Wendy Davis, candidate for Governor, issued the following statement:


“After building one of the most competitive campaign organizations Texas has seen in decades, Karin Johanson has let me know that she believes it's time to hand off the reins of the campaign management for our final push toward election day. 


Together, we knew immediately the right partner for the rest of this journey toward our victory on Election Day: Chris Turner.


Chris has spent nearly 20 years in Texas politics and has fought — and won — tough races in this state.  His commitment to the people of Texas is unparalleled and demonstrated in his service in the state legislature.  He is an honorable public servant, a highly regarded political strategist and a friend who believes in my vision for all Texans.


Chris and Karin will work together to transition with our staff, volunteers and supporters. 


Karin has been an amazing partner in getting our team up and on their feet.  Under her management, we have raised more money, have more donors and have more volunteers than any candidate ever in Texas.   I'm grateful for the skills she's brought to us and appreciate the effort she is putting into the transition. 


As we make these changes, we will not let up for one second as our aggressive team continues to organize voters in every region of the state and drive the agenda both for our campaign and the campaign of my opponent every single day.”



Chris Turner Bio


State Representative Chris Turner has spent nearly 20 years in Texas politics and knows how to win in tough races. 


He successfully managed four consecutive campaigns for Congressman Chet Edwards (D-Waco) in 2000, 2002, 2004, and 2006.  Following then-Representative Tom Delay's mid-decade redistricting, Edwards was the only targeted Democrat to win re-election in a redrawn district.  Following the 2004 election, Edwards held the most Republican district in America held by a Democrat – and won the 2006 race with 58% of vote.


Turner was elected to the Texas State House in 2008, defeating a Republican incumbent in a district Democrats hadn't won in 20 years.

Chris Turner's official house biography reads:

In November 2012, Chris Turner was elected to serve the people of District 101 in the Texas House of Representatives.

Located entirely in Tarrant County, the rapidly growing and diverse District 101 includes major portions of Arlington and Grand Prairie. The district also includes Arlington and Mansfield Independent School Districts. Major employers in the area include the local school districts, the University of Texas at Arlington, General Motors, and Tarrant County College.

As a member of the Legislature, Chris is committed to working on a bipartisan basis on the issues important to Texas families. Chris's priorities include expanding opportunity for all Texans to have access to good jobs, quality schools and affordable health care and protecting the civil rights and workers rights of all Americans.

During his first legislative session in 2009, Chris passed significant pieces of legislation including the landmark law establishing a dedicated lottery scratch off ticket to benefit the Permanent Fund for Veterans Assistance, which generates up to $9 million per year to pay for much-needed benefits for Texas veterans and their families. Chris also wrote the law that requires electric utility companies to notify consumers when their contract is about to expire.

His work on veterans' issues led to Chris being named “Legislator of the Year” by the Texas Veterans of Foreign Wars, “Legislator of the Year” by the Vietnam Veterans of America, and the Texas State Council and the bi-partisan Legislative Veterans' Caucus's “Freshman of the Year.”

He was also given the “Leadership Award” by the Texas Veterans Commission.

In addition, Chris was named “Freshman of the Year” by Texas Watch for his work on consumer protection issues and “Best of the House” by the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas (CLEAT).

As a state Representative, Chris's primary focus will be to attend to the needs of his constituents and district. During his first term, he attended hundreds of community meetings and hosted several town halls and seminars to provide constituents with information on how to pay for college, lower utility bills and receive veterans' benefits.

A lifelong Texan, Chris graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 1996. Not long after graduation, Chris moved to Fort Worth, where he met his future wife, Lisa. Lisa and Chris were married in 1999. Chris's two stepchildren, Melissa and Scott Hunsaker, both graduated from Summit High School in Mansfield ISD.

You can follow me on Twitter at @trowaman.


About Author

Joseph Vogas

Joseph was raised in Friendswood, Texas in North Galveston County. He went on to graduate from the University of North Texas with a degree in Political Science. After working for multiple campaigns, Joseph was able to work in the 83rd legislature in Austin in 2013. While retired from professional campaign work, Joseph enjoys sharing his knowledge of campaign data how to win elections in naturally unfriendly turf with others. Joseph is an avid archer and enjoys all things geek including Star Wars and DC Comics.

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