Texas could turn blue before long, senator says

Jill Beathard
The Aspen Times

Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis said at a fundraiser in Aspen on Wednesday that she believes Texas is “not far behind” Colorado in making the shift from a Republican majority leadership to a Democratic one.

Davis, who made national headlines when she stood for 13 hours on the floor of the Texas Senate filibustering an anti-abortion bill, was speaking at a Pitkin County Democrats event at the T Lazy 7. The state senator from Fort Worth spoke about the filibuster and the response she’s received since, which makes her believe that many constituents in her state are “tired of not being heard.”

Supporters of the bill, which did pass in a special session called after her filibuster, were seeking “to rob Texas women and the men who love them of their voice,” Davis said.

In preparing for her day on the Senate floor, Davis worked with her staff to find testimonies that had been filed but had not made it to legislators to read aloud during her filibuster. At first they were concerned she wouldn’t have enough material, but throughout the day, they received more than 16,000 emails from people “who wanted to share their voice,” she said.

“As Democrats who helped turn a red state like Colorado blue, you understand what it’s going to take for Texas to reach that point,” Davis said. “After the events of this summer, though, I have a strong feeling that we are not far behind you. I don’t know what it’s going to take for other states to kickstart the change in leadership and usher in a new future. For us in Texas, it was a current regime that was running roughshod over personal liberties and silencing the opinions of thousands of Texas women and their families.”

Davis spoke about her personal experiences as a single mother choosing to attend community college, then transferring to Texas Christian University on a scholarship and finally attending Harvard Law School. State financial aid and health care programs helped her succeed, programs that today are “severely underfunded,” Davis said.

“In the past few weeks, I’ve had so many young women tell me how much it meant to see someone standing up for them and feel as though someone was standing alongside them,” Davis said. “After the filibuster, I’ve had more than a few young women come up and simply cry, and I know their tears aren’t the tears of defeat because the bill ultimately did pass in another session. Instead, I think it was an understanding, a very powerful realization of the power of their voices and that when they do become engaged and involved they do have the opportunity to impact and affect change.”

Davis wasn’t taking interviews at the event, and she didn’t comment on whether she will she run for Texas governor in the 2014 election. Davis has said she will make a decision soon whether to run for governor or seek reelection to the Texas senate, according to a recent article on the Dallas Morning News website.

However, Mayor Steve Skadron gave her some encouragement during his introductory remarks on Wednesday.

“Should you seek higher office, and we hope you do, you have friends in Aspen,” he said.

Colorado Sen. Gail Schwartz, D-Snowmass Village, also spoke at the event, saying that state governments are doing “the important work that needs to be done.”

“We are fortunate to have a majority (of Democrats in state offices), and we know that majorities matter,” Schwartz said. “We want to have a state that we can leave for our children that represents the values so many of us have today.”

Schwartz also praised Davis for her “courage.” Kerry Donovan, of Vail, who is running for Schwartz’s District 5 seat in the next election, appeared on stage with the senator. Schwartz is term-limited.

Sam Lattof, of Boston, who was in attendance at Wednesday’s event, called Davis a “role model.”

“It’s nice to see Sen. Davis as a woman standing up for what she believes in,” Lattof said. “I wish there were more women like her in politics.”