Wendy Davis weighs in about her future
August 5th, 2013
03:15 PM ET
12 months ago

Wendy Davis weighs in about her future

(CNN) – Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis said Monday with "absolute certainty" that she'll either run for her current seat again or run for governor next year.

But the Democrat essentially ruled out a different statewide bid, such as a U.S. Senate seat or the lieutenant governor's office.

Davis, who rose to national fame after her 13-hour filibuster to block a Texas bill restricting abortions, spoke to a friendly audience at the National Press Club in Washington, where she gave a lengthy speech about her life and positions on a variety of issues.

Before Gov. Rick Perry announced last month he would not pursue another term, chatter was high among national and Texas Democrats that Davis might challenge the longtime Republican governor, who Davis publicly feuded with in the recent abortion debate.

While Perry is now out of the picture, Davis said she's still being asked about a potential run for governor.

"I'm working very hard to decide what my next steps will be. I do think that in Texas people feel like we need a change from the very fractured, very partisan leadership that we're seeing in our state," she said.

READ MORE: Wendy Davis raked in almost $1 million after filibuster

Asked about Perry's possible 2016 bid for president, Davis joked: "I have three responses to that."

The swipe was a nod to Perry's "oops" moment at a GOP presidential debate last cycle when he forgot the third of three federal agencies he said he would cut.

If Davis is running for governor, her speech Monday certainly could have been a preamble to a potential campaign announcement. While associated nationally with women's issues, Davis spent a significant portion of her speech talking about other topics: education, the Texas economy, consumer reform in the predatory lending industry, veterans issues, transportation and water infrastructure.

A number of elected officials from Texas were also in attendance, supporting their Democratic colleague.

"These leaders are part of the growing movement to build a state that is more star and less lone," she said.

READ MORE: Davis shrugs off Perry's scolding

Speaking with a modest but comfortable presence, Davis told a story about working as a 9-year-old with her grandfather to write letters to his friends after he became partially paralyzed from a stroke. The experience, she weaved in, drove her to understand the importance of speaking "up for those who can't speak for themselves."

Davis also shared her unusual life story, rising from poverty to national fame. As a divorced mom at the age of 19, Davis said she relied on microwavable pizzas to last her through four meals, while she spent money on food for her daughter.

"Anyone who believes that anything is bigger in Texas did not see the trailer that my young daughter and I lived in," she said.

She caught a break when she enrolled at Tarrant County's community college, a decision that set her on a course to graduate from Texas Christian University and later earn a law degree at Harvard.

While the filibuster wasn't the main subject of her speech, she's all too aware that she's known for her 13-hour standoff.

"People get a little bit nervous when I approach a podium these days," she joked at the top of her remarks.

"In case you were one of the few people who were not live streaming (the filibuster), I thought I'd repeat the entire thing today," she added, drawing laughs.

READ MORE: Wendy Davis: From teen mom to Harvard Law to famous filibuster

For her filibuster, her office had culled together a bunch of personal stories from women around the state who would have been negatively affected had the bill been in place in the past. Her staff cautioned her not to speak too fast, as they worried she would run out of stories too quickly.

But as word spread about her filibuster, more stories began piling into the office email inbox, she said. By the end of the day, they had 16,000 stories.

"At some point in the day, I stopped worrying about running out of stories and instead started worrying about running out of time," she said.

OPINION: Rick Perry should apologize to Wendy Davis

While her effort was successful in blocking the bill at the time, the legislation was later passed in another special session and signed into law by Perry.

The law bans abortions past 20 weeks of gestation, mandates abortion clinics upgrade facilities to become ambulatory surgical centers, and requires doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the clinic at which they're providing abortion services. Critics say the provisions make abortion and women's health clinics inaccessible to many women across the state.

But proponents argue the measure makes health care safer for women and prevents abortions beyond the point at which a heart beat can typically be detected.

Maureen Ferguson, senior policy adviser with The Catholic Association, argued that Davis is in Washington to "promote her late-term abortion agenda" and is "out of touch with the majority of women." She pointed to recent national polls that showed as many as 60% of women nationwide favored laws that banned abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

Following her speech Monday, Davis was peppered with questions from the moderator that had come from the audience. While people most wanted to know about her future, she was also asked twice about Hillary Clinton and about her views on the potential for Texas to become more of a blue state.

But her final question circled the discussion back to the day that put her on the national stage. The moderator asked what Davis did with her pink sneakers, the pair of shoes she wore on the Senate floor that quickly became a symbol of her standoff and prime fodder for social media.

"To the horror of my staff, I immediately put them back on and started to run again," she said. "At some point, I'll set them aside because they'll be a memory that I will treasure forever."

Also see:

Wendy Davis describes filibuster

Wendy Davis: It's the real Texans who count

Lawmaker's filibuster to kill Texas abortion bill ends early


Filed under: 2014 • Texas • Wendy Davis
soundoff (21 Responses)
  1. Winston Smith

    Her future is bright. She needs to make a play for the governors position. She just might get it.

    August 5, 2013 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  2. Sniffit

    GOP/Teatroll response: "We better redistrict AGAIN."

    August 5, 2013 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  3. Rick McDaniel

    She isn't going to win governor........just because she believes in abortion.........in a state, where the majority of people are conservative.

    Indeed, the last Dem that ran.......was a far better candidate than she is.........and he lost.

    August 5, 2013 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  4. Steve, New York City

    I wish her the best in her political aspirations. However, if Senator Davis wanted to leave politics and enter showbiz, she is easily pretty enough to be a soap opera star!

    August 5, 2013 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  5. nintex

    Texas really needs this woman. I know I'm not the only one who is so incredibly sick of Rick Perry's crap around here. I will be working very hard to help get this woman elected Governor should she choose to run, and I hope many, many other people will see the advantage of having someone intelligent in Austin for a change. What a concept!

    August 5, 2013 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  6. wendel

    you go girl.

    August 5, 2013 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  7. Doug in NYC

    If I lived in Texas, I'd vote for her in whatever capacity she sees herself, not living in Texas, I'd gladly contribute to her campaign was chest! Go Miss Davis!

    August 5, 2013 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  8. Doug in NYC

    War chest I meant to say.

    August 5, 2013 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  9. just sayin

    only whacky liberals think that a person that supports the murder of innocent babies can win office in a conservative state. the koolaide runneth over...

    August 5, 2013 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  10. Steveo

    Up to Texans. Most of us only know of her due to her 13 hour filibuster! Local politics is up to the locals!

    August 5, 2013 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  11. Dallas

    Senator Davis – I know it will be an uphill fight but we need to turn Texas back to blue and away from these tea party hypocrites. I tell you Governor Davis sounds so much better than Governor Abbott!

    August 5, 2013 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  12. Rudy NYC

    "The law bans abortions past 20 weeks of gestation, mandates abortion clinics upgrade facilities to become ambulatory surgical centers, and requires doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the clinic at which they're providing abortion services. Critics say the provisions make abortion and women's health clinics inaccessible to many women across the state. "
    ---------------
    Where is Fair? She keeps trying to say that the new Texas law allows for abortions past 20 weeks in the event of a medical emergency, and I keep telling her that she's wrong. The Texas law puts in place an outright ban beyond 20 weeks, no exceptions.

    August 5, 2013 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  13. The Real Tom Paine

    -Rick McDaniel

    She isn't going to win governor........just because she believes in abortion.........in a state, where the majority of people are conservative.

    Indeed, the last Dem that ran.......was a far better candidate than she is.........and he lost.
    ********************
    TX has had GOP governors for 20 years, and the issues that actually matter to residents, like jobs and the economy, well, its a great state for part-time work with no benefits under the GOP. The social issues will not resonate for the simple reason that Texans are showing fatigue from the endless sermons from the Governor's mansion while families struggle to put food on the table. The skilled jobs are going to people from outside the state who leave when they see the terrible schools and deal with the unplanned growth and poor planning that is rampant throughout the state.

    August 5, 2013 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  14. sonny chapman

    She's a Real Texan. Not manufactured like Karl Rove's creation-George W. Bush.

    August 5, 2013 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  15. The Real Tom Paine

    -just sayin

    only whacky liberals think that a person that supports the murder of innocent babies can win office in a conservative state. the koolaide runneth over...
    ***************
    And only a conservative thinks that a state that excels at producing part-time jobs, droughts, industrial accidents, and sub-standard high-school graduates will continue to vote against their interests and put another mindless corporate mouthpiece into the governor's mansion. Under the GOP, TX has become hazardous to your health, literally.

    August 5, 2013 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  16. kirk

    More class than the entire Republican party.we have not seen the last of her.she is a breath of fresh air down there.another rtw state. Working poor. The new gop plan

    August 5, 2013 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  17. just sayin

    The Real Tom Paine
    ***************
    And only a conservative thinks that a state that excels at producing part-time jobs, droughts,
    ---

    only a union educated liberal thinks a state produces droughts.... i guess you think they should have instead gone into the thunder storm business?!

    August 5, 2013 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  18. Sheila

    she'd be better off running for her seat again . . . . she would never make it, running for Perry's job. . . . . even the most influential people in texas doesn't like Perry any more. because he just brought the education level down to a whole new level . . . . . in the Houston paper yesterday, Perry is make the sat tests, and all the tests across the state much easier to get your diploma. It's like taking a 6th grade exam, is all you need to graduate in Texas.

    August 5, 2013 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  19. PJ

    If we are still stuck here when the time comes, for sure we will work for her.

    BTW Ticker
    Where is the story about Baby Rance threatening CNN and NBC with blackouts of their debates if you run the
    Hillary Clinton stories? That sounds like a deal to me. Clinton stories, no Republican debates. Can't beat
    that.

    August 5, 2013 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  20. Data Driven

    *in love*

    Though let's be entirely honest: the only reason for her run for governor is more national exposure. Texas governors are weaker than the San Diego Chargers.

    Policy-wise, she's probably more useful where she is now. Need more like her, though ...

    August 5, 2013 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  21. The Real Tom Paine

    -just sayin

    The Real Tom Paine
    ***************
    And only a conservative thinks that a state that excels at producing part-time jobs, droughts,
    -

    only a union educated liberal thinks a state produces droughts.... i guess you think they should have instead gone into the thunder storm business?
    ***********
    Actually, private school. Perry prayed for rain and got a drought: had he received rain, you would be praising him as a prophet of the Lord. Your Christian home-schooling is on display, again. Its called a play on words, something I'm sure you would find obscene: interesting that you made no attempt to dispute anything else I said, so you must be biting your lower lip and agreeing with me on the lousy condition the GOP has left TX in.

    August 5, 2013 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |