Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis plans to announce her candidacy for governor next week with an elaborate launch that includes watch parties around the state and a boost from the national women’s political organization Emily’s List, according to Democrats familiar with her campaign plans.
Davis, who burst onto the national stage with an 11-hour filibuster against antiabortion legislation this year, has set Oct. 3 for a formal announcement of her next move. It had been widely anticipated that she would give up her Fort Worth legislative seat after two terms and wage an uphill fight for governor.
The speculation turned to near-certainty Thursday as Democrats stepped forth to say they had heard from Davis or her campaign advisors about her intended plans. They declined to be identified to avoid alienating the candidate or members of her team.
Along with setting up watch parties in several cities around the state, the Davis campaign has worked via social media to build a national audience for her announcement, urging followers to contact friends and colleagues to spread the word.
Davis raised her profile in June by filibustering antiabortion legislation, running out the clock on a special session of the Legislature. Although the law ultimately passed in another special session, she won a nationwide following and was immediately urged to consider a run for governor — an office no Democrat has won in Texas in more than 20 years.
Davis discussed the race in August at a San Francisco forum hosted by Emily’s List, a Democratic group that seeks to promote women in politics.
Speaking to an audience of about 300 activists and donors — who cheered the mere mention of a Davis candidacy — the state lawmaker said, "It’s about time that we have a general election conversation" that dispels the notion of Texas as a right-wing fortress.
"That’s not who we are," said Davis, who suggested that artful drawing of the state’s political boundaries by conservative Republicans had muffled the voices of women, minorities and others who tend to vote for Democrats.
Asked moments later by an audience member whether she intended to seek the governorship, Davis drew whoops and applause by saying she was weighing the possibility. Part of the process, she said, is assessing whether the race is "a winnable one."
"When you ask people to invest their time, their energy and their financial resources in you, you want to make sure that you’re asking them to do something that’s achievable," she said.
Traveling the country, Davis has raised more $1 million in recent months in addition to building a nationwide network of support. Even so, she would start the race for governor as a decided underdog.
The front-runner to succeed Republican Rick Perry, who is stepping down to mull another run for president, is Republican Atty. Gen. Greg Abbott, who has already raised more than $20 million. Tom Pauken, a former state party chairman, is also running for governor on the Republican side. He has a fraction of the money Abbott has raised, but has a following within the tea party wing of the GOP.
Twitter: @markzbarackCopyright © 2015, RedEye