Wendy Davis Announces Run For Texas Governor

By: CBS (Posted by Melissa Brunner)
By: CBS (Posted by Melissa Brunner)

(CBS) Months after an epic fight over abortion rights made her a rising star in the Democratic Party, Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis on Thursday announced her bid for the Texas governor's office.

"We're here, of course, because we care about Texas," Davis said to a cheering crowd at Wiley G. Thomas Coliseum in Haltom City, Texas. "We're here because we care about Texans, and we're here because we believe it's time to give all Texans a voice in their future and a place in Texas' future."

The state lawmaker made the announcement at the Wiley G. Thomas Coliseum in Haltom City, Texas, where she received her high school diploma 32 years ago. Education is expected to be a major issue in her campaign. Davis reminded voters of the campaign she launched two years ago against $5 billion in cuts to education spending, helping to restore more than $3 billion of that funding.

"We love Texas not only for how good it is, but for how great we know it can be," she said. "We want every child, no matter where they start in Texas, to receive a world class education, an education that can take them anywhere they want to go."

While she's focusing largely on education, what really catapulted Davis into the spotlight this year was her 13-hour filibuster in June against a controversial abortion bill in the state legislature. While she managed to help bring down the legislation in that session, Texas lawmakers reintroduced the bill, and Gov. Rick Perry, R-Texas, signed it into law in July.

Davis managed to turn her moment in the spotlight into a fundraising boon, but the governor's mansion will still be an uphill climb for her: Texas last elected a Democrat to statewide office in 1994. Gov. Rick Perry, R-Texas, isn't seeking re-election, but Davis will nevertheless face a tough race against Republican Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, who announced his candidacy in July.

To explain why Democrats haven't won statewide office, Davis said in August, "First of all, people have to run."

Additionally, Davis said, gerrymandering has shifted the political dialogue in Texas to the far right. She also pointed to the low voter participation rate in the state, charging that Abbott "has done everything he can, actually, to suppress that as much as possible."

Democrats have long talked about turning Texas from a red state to a purple state, pointing to its growing Hispanic population. However, CBS News elections direct Anthony Salvanto points out, "What makes Texas harder today for Democrats than some other high-growth, demographically changing states in the west and south is that Democrats in Texas get such a very, very low shares of the white vote - so low, that minority voters and Hispanic voters cannot yet make up the difference."

Davis' supporters are nevertheless rolling out an enthusiastic campaign. The progressive group Democracy for America and former Gov. Howard Dean, D-Vt., jointly announced Thursday that they are endorsing Davis, in their first endorsement of the 2014 cycle. The group sent a fundraising appeal on Davis' behalf to their 1 million members nationwide, including more than 36,000 people in Texas.

"A true progressive hero is standing up and taking the lead position in the fight to turn Texas blue -- and DFA members will be with her every step of the way," the email said, asking supporters to chip in $5 to help her campaign.

Gov. Bobby Jindal, R-La., the chairman of the Republican Governors Association, told CBS News' Major Garrett on Thursday that he's not worried about the Texas race.

"I think she'll get a lot of national headlines and a lot of national money, a lot of special interest groups from ...outside of Texas," Jindal told Garrett. "I think inside Texas, Greg's going to do just fine."

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