Senator Wendy Davis speaks as she begins a filibuster in an effort to kill an abortion bill, Tuesday, June 25, 2013, in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Texas State Senator Wendy Davis, who electrified her state and the nation with last week’s thirteen-hour filibuster to block a sweeping assault on reproductive rights, and who promises to keep up the fight this week as the legislature is called into special session, is suddenly the most interesting prospective gubernatorial candidate in the nation.
When she appeared last week on the MSNBC show All In with Chris Hayes, the Democratic legislator was asked if she might run in 2014 against Republican Governor Rick Perry. Her reply? “You know, I would be lying if I told you that I hadn’t had aspirations to run for a statewide office.”
A close political ally went even further, acknowledging that the veteran local official and legislator is “looking very closely” at the 2014 race. “Certainly, the events over the last week or so show a groundswell in Texas,” says Davis associate Matt Angle, who directs the Democratic political firm Lone Star Project. “We have to see if it all adds up to a statewide campaign.”
As a matter of fact, it does add up.
The woman who so shook Perry that he started taking personal shots at her has the necessary name recognition, thousands of enthusiastic supporters and the potential to raise significant campaign cash from small donors across Texas and nationwide.
Davis has also got a brash, no-apologies-for-being-right approach that has historically played well in the Lone Star State. Long before she was filibustering for reproductive rights, Davis was filibustering for education funding. And her heavy lifting as a progressive legislator has won her a slew of awards like the one from the Texas Office of Public Citizen, which named her the state’s “Outstanding Public Servant.”
Davis is fighting Perry again this week, celebrating the determination of Texas pro-choice activists and declaring to a huge crowd in front of state Capitol Monday that their courage and commitment had made her "believe in Texas more than ever!"
Decrying not just assaults on the rights of women but on public education and public services, Davis pulled the threads of resistance together into a broad call for a fairer and more just Texas, telling the crowd: "That's what we're fighting for."