“I stand with Wendy Davis” became a rallying cry for progressives across the country inspired by the Texas state senator’s 13-hour filibuster and protest against a bill imposing new regulations designed to force clinic closures.
While state Republicans eventually forced passage of the anti-abortion bill in a special session, taking the lead in that crucial fight helped Davis build a strong base from which to launch her campaign for governor of Texas.
Davis will need a lot of support to win statewide in Texas, where a Democrat hasn’t won the governorship since 1990. That last Democratic governor was silver-tongued progressive Ann Richards, and, certainly, Democrats hope Davis will now follow in Richards’ feminist footsteps.
Unfortunately, the attacks against Davis already have turned personal and ugly, with extremists smearing her name in especially sexist and distasteful terms.
A year out from Election Day, Davis trails the likely Republican nominee, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, in the polls and in fundraising. Abbott already has $20 million in the bank and leads by anywhere from 6 to 15 points in the polls.
The good news is that Davis can win with a coalition of Latinos, African-Americans, and liberal to moderate Democrats. Not surprisingly, turnout of those core constituencies, and especially women, will likely determine the next Texas governor. According to one analysis, Davis needs close to 70 percent of the Latino vote and 35 percent of the white vote, as well as strong African-American turnout.
Key to turning out those constituencies are immigration reform, Obamacare and the Republican anti-women agenda, and Davis is on the right side of those issues.
As Matt Barreto of the polling firm Latino Decisions told Newsweek, “Our polling data has clearly documented access to affordable health care is a very important issue to Latinos in Texas, and this could be one of the issues, along with immigration, that could very much help Wendy Davis reach out to [them].”
A rising star in the Democratic Party, 21st Century Democrats first endorsed Davis in 2008, when she won her state senate seat.
In both her public and private life, Davis has been passionate about giving kids a chance to succeed in life.
Understanding the challenges facing working-class families in providing care for their children during summer months, Davis helped create a public-private partnership giving working parents a free, safe, educational place to send their children. She also supported a program that specifically targets young people with an interest in teaching who show promise, but for whom college is not a likely part of their future because of financial and other challenges.
Davis fought to reduce the number of standardized tests students are forced to take, and negotiated the first cost-of-living increase for retired teachers in more than a decade. In 2011, she filibustered a budget that cut more than $5 billion from education funding, and she has continued to fight tirelessly to restore that funding to education.
An advocate of government accountability, Davis successfully championed legislation requiring corporations return government subsidies if they fail to meet obligations. She supports changes in the state budgeting process to ensure taxpayers can see how every dollar is spent.
Throughout Davis’ career, she has been part of numerous economic development and revitalization partnerships, and sought to create jobs for local residents to ensure that all segments of the community would benefit from the projects. Davis stood her ground against moneyed interests when she fought to relocate housing authority residents to mixed-income communities.
Why We Like Her:
Davis’ life story demonstrates the power of education to transform lives. Raised by a single mother with only a sixth grade education, Davis herself ended up as a teenage single mother.
While her family’s financial challenges drew her into the workforce at age 14, her determination and hard work paved the way for Davis to be the first in her family to graduate from college.
Community college opened the doors for Davis to find success for her family. With scholarships to Texas Christian University, she graduated first in her class and went on to graduate with honors from Harvard Law School.
“I envision and will work for an America where we provide opportunity for educating and advancing up and out of poverty the least among us. My education provided that opportunity for me.”