On June 26, at 4:01 a.m. ET, a controversial Texas abortion-related bill was finally declared dead — for the moment, at least. It was the work of hours of a standing, talking filibuster by 50-year-old Texas State Sen. Wendy Davis (D).
“Thanks to the powerful voices of thousands of Texans, #SB5 is dead,” an exhausted Davis tweeted of the bill at 5:28 a.m. ET. “An incredible victory for Texas women and those who love them.”
Senate Democrats chose Davis, of Fort Worth, to head up the filibuster effort because of her background. She had her first child as a teenager, and went on to graduate from Harvard Law School. By late Tuesday evening, Democrats were chanting her name and promoting a “#StandWithWendy” hashtag on Twitter, and even President Barack Obama’s campaign account tweeted a mention.
The abortion-related bill eventually passed after Gov. Rick Perry called a second special session of the legislature, and Perry signed it into law in late July.
Still, Texas Democrats are hoping to take the energy she inspired and turn it into an improbable victory in next year’s gubernatorial election. On Nov. 9, a little more than four months removed from her filibuster, Davis announced she will run for governor.
The early indications are that it will be an uphill battle for Davis next year. Davis trails likely Republican candidate and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott by a 50-35 margin, according to a November survey conducted by Public Policy Polling.
And Texans are split whether they support the abortion-related law that Perry eventually signed into law — 40% support it, and 41% oppose. The Texas bill effectively bans most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy while creating new regulations for abortion clinics and their doctors.
“It’s hard for me to believe” Davis would be successful against Perry or Attorney General Greg Abbott, one Republican strategist told Business Insider in July, citing her prominence on the topic of abortion. “It’s not a Texan issue.”
“On its face, it’s a long shot,” one veteran Democratic strategist said of Davis’ candidacy, requesting anonymity to speak candidly.
No Democrat has won a statewide election in Texas since 1994.
But that one night in June served as a springboard for what Democrats think is their best chance in a while.
Davis began speaking late Tuesday morning on June 25, donning a pair of pink running shoes for her lengthy effort. Under Texas rules, she could not so much as lean on her desk or take a break for meals or to go to the bathroom.
In the afternoon, when it became clear that the effort had a chance of succeeding, Davis’ name went national. According to The Associated Press, she jumped from about 1,200 Twitter followers when the filibuster began to more than 65,000 as of Wednesday morning.
When the clock approached midnight — after Davis had stopped talking and lawmakers began bickering over procedural rules — almost 200,000 people were watching a livestream of the State Senate.
“I have to say in my short experience here I’ve never experienced a day at the Capitol like this one and I think people who have been here a lot longer than me will say the same thing,” Davis told reporters afterward.
“What I think it accomplished is what I hoped it would and that was to inspire people to understand that there are voices here on the Senate floor that represent them. And I felt empowered by their presence by their support by the letters. … They made a difference and they are what makes Texans so amazing. And I am proud to be a Texan tonight.”
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