Texas filibuster star Davis still weighing future

Published on NewsOK Modified: June 30, 2013 at 10:15 am •  Published: June 30, 2013
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AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — State Sen. Wendy Davis, whose filibuster against Texas abortion restrictions gained her national fame, insists Democrats will be competitive in next year's statewide races but hasn't decided whether she'll be part of the slate of candidates for offices currently dominated by Republicans.

The Harvard-trained lawyer told The Associated Press she has been fielding congratulatory phone calls from around the world since her marathon filibuster Tuesday that helped run out the clock on the special session and kill the abortion bill. But she hasn't determined if she should seek re-election to the Senate or, as some have encouraged her, aim higher and perhaps run for governor.

Davis said she is concentrating on the second special legislative session that begins Monday, when Republicans will try again to pass a bill that likely would shut down at least 37 out of 42 abortion clinics in the state and impose other restrictions on the procedure.

"When we get through it, and I can lift my head up, and I'm back in my district with my constituents I will have more time to think about (the future)," she said. "I think the more important question is what will the people do with their newfound power? I think Tuesday was a game-changer in Texas."

Since she first defeated a Republican incumbent in a swing district in 2008, Texas Democrats have seen in Davis the charisma and fight needed to win statewide office. But candidates can't win on their own; they need local political clubs to get excited, county-based organizations to guarantee turnout and at least $16 million and hundreds of volunteers to run a campaign in the country's second-largest state.

Democrats haven't won such a race since 1994. Texas ranks 47th in the country in voter participation, and the party can't seem to get more than 43 percent of the ballots.

Changing demographics, though, have given Democrats hope of reviving their party as Hispanics and young people make up a larger proportion of eligible voters. Davis won her district by building a coalition of Hispanics, African-Americans and low-income whites — groups that, when combined, make up the majority of Texans.

Davis said she dedicated her filibuster to people too often ignored by the Republican leadership.

"Their voice mattered, and they made a difference," she said. "It may be that we go into this next special session and they are drowned out, but I don't think they are going to remain quiet. I think this has engaged the public in Texas who are tired of the leadership they are seeing."