Will She Run?

2 minute read
Hilary Hylton / Austin; Kate Pickert; Elizabeth Dias; Maya Rhodan

She is now simply Wendy. as the leader of a last-minute fight against a rigid antiabortion bill, the filibustering, pink-sneaker-shod, Harvard Law–trained Texas state senator Wendy Davis became a nationally celebrated champion of women’s rights. And for long-suffering Texas Democrats, her sudden stardom raises hopes that she could be the one to break the 14-year Republican choke hold on statewide office.

But politics is more of a drama than a musical. While Governor Rick Perry announced plans to step down after his term–freeing him to prepare for the 2016 presidential race–the Texas legislature moved to approve the abortion bill. So with an extended session leaving no hope of a successful reprise filibuster, Davis climbed aboard an orange bus emblazoned with the slogan STAND WITH TEXAS WOMEN and headed off on a multicity tour with Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards, daughter of the state’s last great Democratic star, the late governor Ann Richards.

Long before Wendy, the brash, platinum-haired Ann was on a first-name basis with voters. But Lone Star State politics has heaved right since Richards left office in 1995, and though Perry’s decision has Democrats eager to seize a sliver of opportunity, veteran statehouse observers caution that the “Run, Wendy, run” chorus may be premature.

Davis has some moderate credibility–in 2012 her yard signs in her Fort Worth district shared lawn space with those for Mitt Romney–but abortion is divisive as a signature issue, especially among the all-important Hispanic voting bloc, which is vital to a Democratic takeover.

“She has revived a moribund party,” says Rice University political scientist Mark Jones. “Whether that can be transformed to success at the polls is another question.”

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