Wendy Davis, a Liberal Texas Star, Prepares Another Campaign In D.C.

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Win McNamee / Getty Images

Wendy Davis at the National Press Club on August 5, 2013.

In the weeks since she grabbed the national spotlight by filibustering an abortion bill in Texas, state Sen. Wendy Davis has been bouncing around Washington D.C. in what feels like a showcase for the Democratic Party’s newest star. The question has been just what she was planning to do with all the attention.

So far Davis has hosted two fundraisers in D.C., a $500 breakfast at Johnny’s Half Shell near the Capitol, followed by a happy hour event with tickets ranging between $25 to $250 at U Street bar Local 16. At each event, Davis hinted at the possibility of running for governor in 2014, although she has neither confirmed nor denied if she will actually throw her famous pink sneakers into the race.

On Monday, Davis kept the public guessing. She addressed a crowd during a luncheon at the National Press Club and her response to the question on her gubernatorial bid was no different. “I can say with absolute certainly that I will be running for one of two offices, either my state senate seat or the governor,” Davis said during a question and answer session.

That decision, she said, will be coming in a matter of weeks. If she runs for governor, she will face an uphill climb against the Republican Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, who announced his bid on July 14. In the meantime, however, Davis is happy to bask all the national attention she can muster, repeating the sort of broadly appealing bromides that politicians seeking higher office often embrace.  “Texans — and women all over the country — deserve leaders that care, that listen and that work to protect their interests,” Davis wrote in a mid-July Op-Ed for the Washington Post. At the fundraising event at Local 16 on July 25 Davis told the crowd, “Texans deserve leaders who offer more than partisanship, more than extremism.”

At Monday’s event Davis reiterated that sentiment. “For all the rhetoric—and I know we all hear it about big government or small government—Texans want what I think everyone wants,” Davis said during her prepared remarks. “They just want to see good government.”

She cast herself as a post-partisan leader, saying her constituents in District 10, “never want to talk about party affiliation; they want to talk about problems.” While serving on both the local and state levels Davis said she got used to “working in areas that aren’t considered naturals for Democrats,” including shale gas drilling and transportation planning, yet continuing the fight for more Democratic principles including education funding and consumer reform.

“What we see in Texas we see all over the country where districts have been drawn through redistricting that have meant conversations now only take place at the extreme party level,” said Davis. “It’s not reflective of who people in Texas really are.”

In Texas, however, Davis and the Democratic party still have far to go. In early July, 39% of voters had a favorable opinion of Davis, compared to 29% who viewed her unfavorably and 32% who had no opinion of her, according to a Public Policy Polling report. Davis trailed Attorney General Abbott by 8 points when voters were asked who they would choose in a governor’s race between the two.

Texans also, by in large, supported the abortion restriction she tried to block with the filibuster that thrust her into national the spotlight. According to a June University of Texas and Texas Tribune poll, 62% of respondents supported the 20-week ban on abortions that was included in the bill. In general, 36% of Texans polled believe abortion should always be legal compared to 16% who say it should never be permitted. The abortion bill also required abortion clinics to meet the standards of ambulatory surgical centers and requires abortionists to have admitting privileges at local hospitals. After the Davis filibuster, the bill passed the state Senate and Gov. Rick Perry signed it into law on July 18.

Some Democrats are nonetheless hoping that Davis will play a central role in changing attitudes in the state. Texas State Senator Rodney Ellis says the only way to know whether or not Texas is likely to tread away from being a red state and more toward being purple is for her to run. “All of the ingredients are there for Texas to be at least a purple state,” Ellis told TIME. The demographic breakdown of Texas, according to the Census, is nearly identical to that of the U.S. as a whole, he said. “The best way to test it for [a Democrat] to run and to run at the top of the ticket.”

Regardless of whether or not her historic filibuster leads to a higher position in government, Davis said she’s glad she was able to be a “voice for people.” “If any outcome for me comes from the moment in the spotlight that the filibuster provided it would be to make sure that I play a part in changing that in Texas,” she told the national press.

23 comments
Phoenicia
Phoenicia

I watched a great deal of the debate on the abortion bill in the Texas Senate because of Wendy Davis' filibuster.  I haven't done that in years.  What troubled me about the debate and Texas politics in general is the routine dishonesty of people who tearfully talk about protecting women's health and the life of the unborn and then don't care enough about children and mothers once the children are born to fund adequate healthcare, nutrition, and education.  Texas is being sued in its courts once again for failing to provide adequate, constitutional education funding for its schools.  Texas schools have repeatedly had to sue the state to get adequate funding.  As a lifelong Democrat born in Texas who grew up during the Kennedy, Johnson years with Civil Rights and the War on Poverty waged by Texans, it feels great to feel proud again of Texas because of Wendy Davis' courage, eloquence, and commitment. 

As it was another Texas woman, Sarah Weddington, who argued the case of Roe vs. Wade before the Supreme Court, with the case originating in Texas, I am particularly proud that we are beginning to see Texas politicians again who care about women, children, poverty and healthcare.  Perhaps our history with Roe vs. Wade made Texas a target for the Republican Party. Though I personally dislike abortion, I dislike poverty and illegal abortions even more.  With overpopulation being the greatest threat we face in the 21st century as it threatens adequate food, water, and energy supplies, laws designed to close most of the abortion clinics in one of our largest states are particularly short sighted.  When the word "abortion," however, is used as a code word by Democrats for abusing adults who they disagree with, that is shameful.  It is almost as shameful as Republicans using the term "drug use" by athletes as a code word to mean athletes who support Democrats. 

I think both parties need to start using plain English to say what they mean.  Greater honesty is needed by everyone for a Democracy to function, and both Democrats and Republican need to recommit themselves to honesty and to serve all Americans.  It was Truman's reputation as an honest 33 Degree Freemason that made Freemason Franklin Roosevelt insist that Truman run as his Vice-President even though Truman didn't want to be Vice-President or President at the time.  But Franklin Roosevelt knew that the country needed that kind of honesty during one of its most dangerous moments in history.  America needs that same honesty from both Freemasons and non Freemasons to rededicate ourselves to freedom again. 

We can see that rededication in fearless women and men like Wendy Davis.  Thank God she has joined the legacy of America's great leaders: Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Barbara Jordon, Ralph Yarborough, Lloyd Bensen, John Connolly, Jim Wright, Sam Rayburn, and Sarah Weddington, Jimmy Carter, and Martin Luther King, Jr. Currently, Texas has the 5th highest rate of teenage pregnancy in the nation.  According to the Texas Observer in April 16, 2013, Texas ranks "50th in high school graduation rate, first in amount of carbon emissions, first in hazardous waste produced, last in voter turnout, first in percentage of people without health insurance, and second in percentage of uninsured kids."  Where are the tears and the shame that Lyndon and Lady Bird Johnson's state, after leading the nation in its civil rights movement and war on poverty, has sunk so low in its commitment to poor women and children?  I am ashamed of Texas.  Wendy Davis made me feel proud again.

fourpmfox
fourpmfox

Miss Davis stated on CSPAN this morning that she didn't know what happened in the Gosnell case. 

How can she be taken seriously after that?

Either she is telling a lie, or she is too lazy to keep informed on her issues.

RodInTexas
RodInTexas

That reminds me, I need to send another donation to Gregg Abbott's campaign.  I'll do that today.

fgoodwin
fgoodwin

"By in large"?  What, is the author telling us how to shop at Wal-Mart?  Can CNN PLEASE hire some decent editors and not rely solely on spell-check?

DebbieHanrahan
DebbieHanrahan

I was a Republican for over 35+ years.  Once the party let loose the radicalized social, economic, and religious zealots I became an Independent.  The GOP that I belonged to has lost its core platform to radicals thus the party for me is over.  For quite a while I had hoped the GOP leadership would regain reasonable control over the fringe but it has not.  Wendy Davis will do a far better job than Perry who seeks to have Texas and the USA a Totalitarian Theocracy.  No better than the goals of Iran.

cjh2nd
cjh2nd

her 15 minutes will be up when election time rolls around and she gets slaughtered. at the end of the day, it's texas. it's red and it's going to remain red

DarwinAkbar
DarwinAkbar

She will be a vast improvement over the current governor! 

HillCountryLady
HillCountryLady

Gee, Time Magazine belongs to Rupert Murdoch now? Otherwise, how to explain the snide tone of this article. Looks like the author didn't hear the same speech I did. Davis was eloquent and moving. A stunning performance from our future Governor.

Paul,nnto
Paul,nnto

Seems I've been hearing about the coming change in Texas for a long time. And all Texas does is move further to the right and elect people like Cruz.

anon76
anon76

@cjh2nd 

Always has been red, always will be red, amiright?

Remind me again how many Republicans were elected Governor of Texas between 1873 and 1978?  None?  Oh well, at least there have been two Reds in a row- that sounds like perpetuity to me!

How about how many Republic Lt. Governors there were before Perry in the 150+ years of Texas statehood?  Not a single one?

Well, this time is different- I'm sure it will never change partisan color from here on out.

jmac
jmac

@cjh2nd Tell that to Dallas, which went into shock when their Republican judges didn't win their good-old-boy seats.  

cjh2nd
cjh2nd

@HillCountryLady 

sorry to inform you, she's not your future governor. you're stuck in a red state for the foreseeable future

jmac
jmac

@Paul,nnto Texans don't vote in very large numbers.    It's as low as 26% in some elections.    Most Texans don't even know there's an election going on unless it's the presidential elections - and then they go and press the 'R' or 'D' at the top of the page and go home.   One press of the finger and it's a done deal.  That's why all our judges went from being Democrats when the state was blue to Republicans when the state went red.  

KenDreger
KenDreger

@Paul,nnto We move further to the right because so many of the wacky leftist try to force the Left's idology on us! Texas will stay a Right wing state where we respect the freedoms we have and the Left just needs to move to another state that will accept them.

MrBenGhazi
MrBenGhazi

@Paul,nnto I'd say that the night is darkest before dawn, but then that's not really true is it.

Paul,nnto
Paul,nnto

@jmac @Paul,nnto What do you attribute the citizens disinterest in exercising their franchise to? 

I live in a high turn out state (Minnesota) and it's sort of weird point of pride that we lead the nation in turnout. We are just participating in democracy after all. 

formerlyjames
formerlyjames

@KenDreger @Paul,nnto 

Right, like wacky leftist Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst.  More accurately, wacky is a word most common in discussion of Ted Cruz.

DebbieHanrahan
DebbieHanrahan

@KenDreger @Paul,nnto I agree Texas will remain a red state but you do not have freedom but are deceived.  Texas is approaching a Totalitarian Theocracy.

Paul,nnto
Paul,nnto

Ha, freedom sure can be a ill-defined word.

But at any rate, I agree, Texas will remain right wing state.