Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis officially announced that she will run for Texas governor Thursday, following weeks of speculation among Democrats and progressives in Texas who’ve been rooting for the Fort Worth native to make a run for statewide office ever since her news-making 13-hour filibuster of Texas’ omnibus anti-choice bill this summer.
Speaking in the suburban Fort Worth coliseum where she graduated from high school, Davis told her supporters, “This is a campaign not just for governor of our state but for the very future of our state.”
Around the state, Democratic groups gathered in bars and restaurants to watch Davis’ announcement, repeating her campaign mantra—”We will keep going!”—with their newly announced candidate.
But left-leaning Texans were not the only ones preparing for a Davis governorship bid: hours before Davis made her announcement, a national anti-choice group released an attack ad against the senator, with plans to broadcast it in South Texas. There, access to reproductive health care is expected be limited by HB 2, the anti-choice bill critics say would shutter all but six abortion clinics in the state. Among other restrictions, it requires abortion providers to have admitting privileges at local hospitals, in addition to severely restricting medication abortions.
The ad says, in part, that “Wendy Davis puts late term abortion ahead of our faith, ahead of our families, and ahead of Texas values.”
But Rosalie Weisfeld, a Democratic organizer in the Rio Grande Valley, said the ad’s timing shows that Davis’ anti-choice opponents are “scared,” but Weisfeld isn’t: she told RH Reality Check that people in South Texas respect abortion as a private decision between a pregnant person, their family, and their doctor.
Davis’ strongest opponent, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, tweeted just after his new opponent’s announcement, “Senator Wendy Davis wants to bring Obama’s agenda to Texas. Say NO! Join me today.” Rather than addressing Davis’ candidacy itself, he focused on associating her with President Barack Obama.
While speaking, Davis’ biggest applause came when she said the word “filibuster,” the tactic for which she became known earlier this summer against HB 2, but in fact she mentioned it in the context of her 2011 filibuster against education cuts in the state, reminding her supporters that before she was a star advocate for reproductive rights, she was a champion for education.
“Texas deserves a leader who understands that making education a priority creates goods jobs for Texans and keeps Texas on top,” she told the crowd, before exiting to the Sara Bareilles hit song, “Brave.”