Democratic state Sen. Wendy Davis declared her candidacy for governor of Texas on Thursday, promising to focus on the needs of average Texans.
In an email to supporters, Davis said she would focus on education, economic development and health care.
Davis has said that her experience going from being a single teen mother to a successful Harvard-trained attorney informs her political views and her commitment to Texas' middle-class residents.
Davis became somewhat of a sensation on the Left for filibustering an anti-abortion bill last June for thirteen hours. Eventually signed into law by Governor Rick Perry, the legislation banned abortions after 20 weeks gestation, among other things. And while her filibuster was ultimately unsuccessful, it did help her build momentum and grassroots support for a gubernatorial run:
Davis' opponents plan to use her support for abortion rights to rally conservative Christian voters next fall. About 40 anti-abortion demonstrators marched outside the venue where Davis was speaking Thursday, and Texas Right to Life plans to begin airing an ad over the weekend that calls her an "abortion zealot."
If her defense of abortion rights angered the right, it inspired Democrats who urged her to run for governor in 2014 and reinvigorate a party that hasn't won statewide office since 1994. Her speech in the Legislature also added to her donor list, both in Texas and across the country.
"I thought the filibuster was inspiring and it seems like she really cares about people," said Amanda Fisher, a 24-year-old from Dallas. Fisher said she was considering volunteering for a political campaign for the first time.
Davis must raise money quickly to compete with the front-runner for the GOP nomination, Attorney General Gregg Abbott. He has already raised $25 million to her more than $1 million.
Clearly, Abbott has a decided advantage at the moment. Party experts suggest that Davis will need at least $40 million to make the race even competitive. But because of her inspiring personal story, and the state’s supposedly changing demographics -- not to mention no shortage of liberal donors -- Democrat strategists believe she has a real shot. We’ll see.