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Campbell No Wallflower

Campbell No Wallflower

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Published by Allen Blakemore
San Antonio Express News 13.09.09
Campbell no wallflower
by Kolten Parker
San Antonio Express News 13.09.09
Campbell no wallflower
by Kolten Parker

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Published by: Allen Blakemore on Sep 10, 2013
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09/10/2013

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Campbellnowallflower
ByKoltenParkerSeptember9,2013
AUSTIN—ThelongstandingadviceforfreshmansenatorsintheTexasLegislatureisthesamegiventonervousteensenteringtheirfirstyearofhighschool:youaretobeseen,notheard.NoonetoldstateSen.DonnaCampbell,whoservedherfirsttermasanelectedofficialthissession,orshedidn'tlisten.First-yearsenatorsaretypicallyexpectedtopaytheirdues,stepasideforseniormembers,andslowlybuildtheirlegislativepowerintheSenate,whereseniorityrules.Instead,Campbell,ateapartyfavoriteandself-proclaimed“citizenlegislator,”madeasplashandendedthesessionwithbothRepublicansandDemocratstargetingher.Campbell,anemergencyroomdoctoraffectionatelyknowntohersupportersas“Dr.Donna,”enteredtheLegislaturelastNovemberonahistoricwave—shewasthefirstpersontounseatasittingRepublicansenator,seven-termSanAntonioRepublicanJeffWentworth.“Theprocessdoesn'tinvitepeoplewhoarebrandnew,”saidCampbell,R-NewBraunfels.“ButI'mheretoservethepeople,notthepoliticians.”DuringanopeningceremonypresidedbyGov.RickPerryonthefirstdayofthesession,CampbellduckedthebrassrailanddodgedphotographerssprintingtotheaidofaSenatestaffmemberwhofainted.SheirkedliberaldetractorsandawedconservativesupportersearlywithpassionatespeechessupportingschoolvouchersontheEducationcommitteeand,amidnationaldebateongunsafety,proposingtocutrequiredconcealedhandgunlicensetraininghoursbyhalf,whichultimatelypassedintolaw.
 
Campbell,58,garnerednationalattentionwhensheutilizedalegislativemaneuverinJunetosinkSen.WendyDavis'now-famousfilibuster,whichwasobservedbythousandsinTexasandacrossthecountry.“Thefeelingwastriumphant,”Campbellsaid,addingthatmissingthemidnightdeadlinetopassthebillwas“heartbreaking”afterrowdyspectatorsbackingDaviseruptedandpreventedatimelyvote.Hercriticscalledthemove“disrespectful”andcontendtheSenate'slongstandingtraditionistoallowfilibusterstoproceedwithoutchallenge.“Idon'tthinkI'veeverseensuchanefforttodisrespectanothersenator'sfilibusterinthemorethan20yearsI'vebeenwatching,”saidHaroldCook,aDemocraticconsultant.TheabortionrestrictionsDaviswasattemptingtoblockultimatelypassedthefollowingmonth,butnotbeforeshewaslaunchedtonationalDemocraticstardom.TheFortWorthDemocratisnowmillingarunforgovernor.“It'sasadstatementofhowpeoplewilllionizesomeoneasaheroineforastanceonsomethingthatthemajorityofpeopledisagreewith,”Campbellsaid.“I'mindisbeliefthatshewouldbeheldtosuchaheroicpositionforanissuethatdefinitelyisincontradictiontoTexans'values.”Campbellwasanoutspokenproponentoftheabortionrestrictions,whichshecalls“pro-lifelegislation,”andsparkeddiscussionafterpassionatelyspeakinginsupportofthecontroversialbillwearingherhospitalscrubsduringaCapitolpressconference.Criticscalledthedisplayoverthetopandsaidherexperienceasanophthalmologistdoesn'ttranslatetoprofessionalknowledgeonabortion.“ItseemslikeeverytimeInoticedDonnaCampbell,shewasnotdoingthethingsthatmakethetrainsofgovernmentrunontime,”saidCook.“Shewasn'tdoingeconomicdevelopmentwiththerestoftheBexarCountydelegation;shewasoffchasinganotherRepublicandog-whistlesocialissue.”Campbellhasnotwelcomedtheattentionthatcomeswiththeterritory.StafffromotherRepublicanandDemocraticSenateoffices,speakingontheconditionofanonymity,saidCampbellquicklyearnedareputationasadifficultboss.OfsixCapitolstaffmembersCampbellemployedthissession,fourhaveleft,accordingtopersonnelrecordsobtainedbytheExpress-News.Theneedsoftheofficechanged,Campbellsaid.Onthelastdayoftheregularsession,Campbellsaid,shewasaskedtoaddressa
 
rumorthatshehadslappedherthen-chiefofstaff,BonnieBruce,duringacommitteehearingbyaSenateofficial.“Iwasspeechless,”Campbellsaid.“I'veneverslappedanybodyinmylife.”“Ifyou'rereachingbacktryingtocatchsomebody,youknow,ifyoutapthem,isthataslap?AndIdon'trememberthat,”Campbellsaid.“I'lltellyoutherewasnotaslap.Butyouknow,Ican'thelpwhatsomebodysaysorbelieves,Icanonlyletmyreputationprecedeme.”Bruce,alongtimelegislativeaide,declinedtocommentbutinherdepartinglettersaidherexperiencewas“achallengebutapleasure,”accordingtorecords.HerlastdayislistedasMay31.Campbellattributedtherumorsto“somebodywhowantstohurtme”butdeclinedtocommentfurther.TwostaffmembersleftonAug.1,andbothsaidinadepartingletterthatthey“enjoyed”theirtimeintheoffice,accordingtorecords.OnestaffmemberwasterminatedinAprilbutdidn'twritealetter.Whilestatesenatorsnormallyareelectedtofour-yearterms,Campbelldrewatwo-yeartermwhensenatorsheldapost-redistrictingdrawingearlythisyear,whichhappensevery10years.RepublicanshavealreadystartedeyeingCampbell'sseat,includingMikeNovak,alifelongSanAntonioresidentandformerBexarCountycommissioner.EmbattledSanAntonioDistrict9CouncilwomanElisaChan,whodrewcriticismforanti-gaycommentsmadeinarecordingpublishedbytheExpress-News,isalsoconsideringruninSenateDistrict25,whichincludesportionsofBexarandTravisCountiesandallofHays,Comal,GuadalupeandKendallcounties.“IfI'mgoingtohaveachallenger,Imightaswellhaveaformidableone,”Campbellsaid.Campbellsaidshewas“happy”ChanopposedarecentordinancepassedbySanAntonioCityCouncilthataddsdiscriminationprotectionsforsexualorientationandgenderidentitybutdeclinedtocommentonChan'santi-gayremarks.“Thosearehercomments,”Campbellsaid.“I'mjustgoingtoletherdefendthose.”CooksaidtheSenateraceistoughtopredictbutthatheisn't“convincedthatanybodyvoted
 for
DonnaCampbell;IthinktheywerevotingagainstJeffWentworth.”StateSen.DanPatrick,R-Houston,saidhewasimpressedwithCampbell'sfirst

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