|Texas Abortion Filibusterer Weighs Gov Run|
|By ABBY D. PHILLIP||Aug 5, 2013, 3:53 PM|
If not now, when? If not Wendy Davis, then who?
Those are among the questions at the forefront of the minds of national Democrats and supporters inside the state of Texas who are eagerly awaiting the Texas state senator's decision about whether she will run for governor next year.
Speaking at the National Press Club in Washington today, Davis, 50, said she'll make her decision "hopefully in just the next couple of weeks."
"I'm thinking very carefully about it for myself and my family," the Democrat told a group of reporters after her speech. "Obviously, it's a huge task to take on and I want to make sure it's the right thing for me, and also is something hopefully our state would want to see."
Davis catapulted to national fame for her 13-hour June filibuster against an anti-abortion bill that called for a 20-week ban on abortions and regulations for abortion providers that abortion rights advocates said put all but a handful of clinics in the state at risk of closing.
The Texas legislature eventually passed the bill after Texas Gov. Rick Perry called a second special session to push the bill through.
But as Davis' star has risen, so has the clamoring for her to challenge Republican Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, who hopes to succeed Republican Perry in the governor's mansion.
Democrats admit that Davis, or any Democrat seeking statewide office in Texas, faces long odds, but many believe that the Harvard-educated lawyer's political acumen, her personal story and her national notoriety make this a moment hard to pass up.
In her 30-minute speech today, it was easy to see why Democrats see their future in the Lone Star State as intertwined with Davis.
"I've seen firsthand that education is absolutely a pathway out of poverty," Davis said, expertly intertwining her own story of escaping poverty with her political stump speech. "Thirty years ago, I could not have imagined that I would one day be here in Washington, D.C., standing in front of you.
"Because my life looked very different then. Frankly, it looked a lot like my own mother's."
Davis' story -- a single teenaged mother who went from community college to Harvard to the State legislature -- is a signature of her platform, just as it has been a target for her political opponents.
Perry shocked even fellow Republicans by suggesting that Davis "should have learned from her own example" as a single mother, and support abortion restrictions.
Davis, who holds one of Texas' only competitive state Senate districts, will decide whether to carry the mantle for Democrats in Texas in the governor's race or defend her Republican-leaning seat that includes Fort Worth and parts of Arlington.
In the meantime, she is practicing a message for her district that she believes is a model for a statewide run.
"Texans want what I think everyone wants: good government," Davis said. "And I've continued to take on issues that people don't always associate with Democrats.
"These problems don't have a partisan affiliation, so their solutions shouldn't either."
Davis has already headlined Democratic fundraisers in Washington, and she'll need the practice.
State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte told ABC News that the ability to raise money to support a gubernatorial run is probably the most critical consideration Davis faces.
"The biggest barrier to electing a Democrat statewide is the financial resources," Van de Putte said. "If she can raise the money and people will support that, then I think she would make an incredible candidate."
Davis added that in order to be in the best position to launch a statewide run, she would need to decide within the next four to six weeks.
For her part, Davis suggested that Texas voters are looking to embrace politicians more in line with their values, regardless of their party affiliation.
Anti-abortion advocates suggest, however, that Davis' claim to fame is a political loser for Democrats. They point to a slew of polls, including a recent ABC New-Washington Post poll that indicate a 20-week abortion ban has the support of more Americans than a 24-week cutoff for abortions.
Asked whether a pro-abortion rights message will resonate with family-oriented Latino voters in Texas, where the growing Latino vote is likely to be the single most influential political factor in the state in the coming years, Davis said Latino voters are also concerned with a slew of issues such as education and economic development, and access to health care like all voters.
"They want leaders who are going to care about and work on things that matter to their families," Davis said.
"Those values translate across ethnic lines and can certainly and absolutely most certainly today are being far better represented by the Democrats in Texas."