Two sources close to Texas State Senator Wendy Davis confirmed to the AP on Wednesday that Davis’ anticipated October 3rd announcement of what’s next for her politically will be a run for governor. Davis gained national attention and popularity earlier this summer with her 11-hour filibuster against extreme anti-abortion legislation. Since then, the senator has continually been asked to run for higher office. Democrats across the state, especially student activists, feel the time has finally come to make a difference in the historically red state.
James Lee, a political organizer and senior political science major at the University of Houston, sees a Wendy Davis run as an exciting opportunity. “I’ve never known what it’s like to grow up in a state with representation from more than one party," he said. "When I think Texas politics, I think of Republican politicians like George W. Bush, Rick Perry, and Greg Abbott.
Wendy Davis is offering us a different Texas than the one we’ve had over the past 20 years. A lot of students see that opportunity and feel that if they can help in any way at all, they’re going to.”
Wendy Davis will be running unchallenged in the Democratic primary. If she wins the governor's office, she will be the first Democrat to be elected to any state-wide position since 1994. While it’s definitely an up-hill challenge, State Rep. Rafael Anchia noted that the excitement generated by Davis “has not been seen [in this state] since Ann Richards.” Richards (mother of Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood ) was the last Democrat to serve as governor of Texas, from 1990-1994.
Davis will likely face State Attorney General Greg Abbott in next November’s general election. Though Abbott seems to have the advantage, it's likely that Davis will have an edge if he galvanizes Democratic voters who are tired of conservative extremism. Abbott recently retweeted a comment calling Davis a “retarded Barbie” and his top political advisor has said he thinks Davis is “too stupid to be governor.”
I mean, really? After George W. Bush and Rick Perry?
Democratic voting group Battleground Texas calls this a “pivotal moment” for the state and Markos Moulitsas of Daily Kos believes that if she wins it would “help accelerate the state’s transition to purple.” This is something that young people in Texas have a big stake in.
It’s not just her pro-choice stance that would make Wendy Davis an attractive candidate for millennial voters. In 2011, she filibustered legislation that cut $5 billion from public education. Although her effort was unsuccessful, she made a name for herself as a strong advocate of access to quality education. Davis also authored and helped pass legislation that advocates for survivors of sexual assault.
“The other part of [reducing unplanned pregnancies] is getting back to a place we once were a long time ago with age-appropriate, scientifically based sex education courses," she told the Texas Observer earlier this summer. "And the idea that somehow if we talk to young people about sex and the consequences of unprotected sex will create a demand for it is really absurd and unfortunately is contributing to the high rate of teen pregnancy we see in Texas.”
Come October 3, Davis will announce her run officially. Student activists like Lee feels confident that students are ready to make change. “I’m hearing a lot of other student activists talk about how they would like to join Wendy Davis’ campaign once she announces,” he told me. “I think the race for Texas governor could very well be decided by students.”