State senator Wendy Davis to run for governor

Texas Chronicle —

Texas state Senator Wendy Davis, kicked off a bid to become the first Democrat to win the governor's office since 1990.

“We're here because we want to fight for Texas jobs and companies to
grow,” Davis, 50, said yesterday at a rally in the suburban Fort Worth
civic center where she graduated from high school.

“We want every child, no matter where they start in Texas, to receive a world-class education.”

The lawmaker from Fort Worth grabbed a national spotlight in June as
she spoke almost nonstop for half a day to oppose a measure backed by
Republican Governor Rick Perry.

Davis stood to block a vote on the proposal to curb abortions.

Democratic leaders in the Lone Star State say Davis has the potential
to return the party to power in Austin. Their last governor was Ann
Richards, who left the office in 1995, beaten by a future president,
George W. Bush.

A poll released Oct. 2 suggests Davis will have her work cut out for
her if she gains a spot on next year's gubernatorial ballot. The survey
showed her losing by 8 percentage points to state Attorney General Greg
Abbott, a Republican who has already begun his campaign for the office
held by Perry since December 2000. Yet the results showed half of voters
had no preference.

Unfocused Voters

“Democrats hoping to turn the state blue in the short term might also
take solace in the fact that more than half of the electorate isn't yet
engaged with the 2014 elections,” said Daron Shaw, a University of
Texas professor who conducted the poll for the Texas Lyceum, a
nonpartisan leadership organization based in Dallas.

Perry, who ran unsuccessfully for his party's presidential nomination last year, isn't seeking re-election.

Davis appealed to supporters to help her end decades of one-party
rule in Austin, where Republicans control the state legislature as well
as all statewide elective offices.

“Texans deserve better than failed leaders who dole out favors to
friends and cronies behind closed doors,” Davis said. “Texas has waited
too long for a governor who knows that quid pro quo shouldn't be the
status quo.”

Republicans, aided by dissatisfaction with President Barack Obama,
will keep the governor's office, Steve Munisteri, the state party
chairman, said in an interview. Obama lost in Texas to Mitt Romney by 16
percentage points in 2012.

Defining Opponent

Abbott immediately began trying to define his would-be opponent next year.

“Texas Democrats are attempting to conjure support for
California-style candidates that try to sell Obama's liberal agenda and
go against what makes Texas great,” he said Wednesday in a statement.

“Nonetheless, we welcome Senator Davis to the race, and look forward
to presenting the clear differences and debating the important issues
that will preserve the economic miracle in Texas.”

 

State Democratic leaders urged Davis to run at the top of their
ticket following her filibuster against banning abortions after 20
weeks, requiring surgical center settings for the procedure and
local-hospital admitting privileges for doctors involved.

The measure she fought passed in a subsequent special legislative session called by Perry.

Davis, a lawyer in Fort Worth when not in the Capitol, spent the past
several months traveling the nation to meet with supporters as she
weighed a statewide campaign in Texas. By some estimates, she'll need at
least $40 million to compete for the governor's office in a state with
several major media markets.

Bulging Fund

Abbott has raised $25 million for his campaign, and may benefit from having won five previous statewide elections.

“The Republicans always outspend us in Texas, but we think we'll be
competitive because she has such a large national profile,” said Grace
Garcia, executive director of Annie's List, a Texas group that raises
money for Democratic women.

The group gave Davis's campaign $50,000 in July and about $450,000 of the $4 million raised for her 2012 senate re-election.

Abbott, 55, must defeat at least one challenger for the Republican
nomination, Tom Pauken, a former state party chairman and head of the
Texas Workforce Commission.

Only Abbott received more than token support in the Lyceum's
telephone survey of 798 registered voters Sept. 6-20. The poll had a
margin of error of 3.5 percentage points.

Davis and supporting groups need to raise $40 million to be
competitive with Abbott, mostly because of advertising costs in the
largest media markets, Garcia said.

Because Democrats have trailed Republicans statewide for more than a decade, Davis will need out of state donors, Garcia said.