Wendy Davis finally made it official.
After weeks of speculation, the Democratic Texas state senator announced her campaign for governor Thursday afternoon in Haltom City, a suburb of Fort Worth, exactly 100 days after staging the 11-hour abortion filibuster that put her on the national map.
Davis — a political unknown before her filibuster, which temporarily blocked an abortion restriction bill in the state senate — has been openly weighing a gubernatorial bid for weeks, all while making speaking and fundraising stops in Washington D.C., San Francisco, and New York City.
Speaking in the Wiley G. Thomas Coliseum, the same auditorium where in 1981 she received her high school diploma, Davis touched on her unlikely path to politics and her bipartisan “problem-solving” experience, first in the Fort Worth city council and then in the state senate. She also talked about her 2011 filibuster against a bill that promised to cut education funding by billions.
“I took to the senate floor determined to block the bill the only way I could — by filibustering,” said Davis, drawing a round of applause from the crowd.
“Thirty-two years ago, I walked across this stage, the granddaughter of farmers from Muleshoe, Texas, who could only afford to rent the land they farmed,” said Davis. “I had no real idea what the future looked like. Today, I see it pretty clearly. It’s looking right at me. It’s you. It’s all of you. And all of you deserve to have your voices heard.”
“That’s why,” Davis said, “today, I’m proud to announce my candidacy to be the 48th governor of the great state of Texas.”
In her speech, Davis did not mention her likely Republican opponent, Greg Abbott, Texas’s attorney general. Abbott did send a tweet during Davis’s speech claiming his new opponent would “bring Obama’s agenda to Texas.”
“Say NO! Join me today,” he added.
According to a poll released this week, Abbott is leading Davis by eight points, 29 percent to 21 percent, a small margin given the state’s Republican leanings. (In the 2012 presidential election, Mitt Romney won the state by almost 16 points against President Obama.) Half of those polled said they “didn’t know” which candidate they would support.
But Davis stands to benefit from a vast network of national Democratic support. Davis headlined a fundraiser in July for EMILY’s List, a major political action committee supporting female candidates. The group has spent the last several months building support online for Davis’s potential campaign. (“Tell Wendy Davis you’ll be running with her,” one email solicitation read.)
Shortly before her announcement Thursday, Davis’s campaign website went live and her office sent a press release to reporters about the announcement, confirming what has been an open secret for weeks now.
Rick Perry, the current Republican governor and former presidential candidate, announced earlier this year that he would retire at the end of his term. Davis would be the first Democrat in two decades to lead the state.
“Texans don’t want to sit back and watch Austin turn into Washington, D.C.,” Davis said. “State leaders in power keep forcing people to opposite corners to prepare for a fight instead of coming together to get things done.”
“For too many Texans, that just doesn’t work,” she continued. “It’s time for a leader who will put Texans first. That’s the kind of leader I’ve tried to be.”
“It’s quite simple really,” Davis said in closing. “The Texas we need, needs you. I need you.”