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Pro-choice hero Davis weighs Texas gov. run

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Wendy Davis is talking again.

Texas' famous filibustering lawmaker, who literally stood against a pro-life law for nearly 13 hours on the floor of the state Senate in June, said Monday that she is weighing a run for governor next year in the wake of her newfound celebrity.

"I can say with absolute certainty that I will run for one of two offices: my state Senate seat or for the governor," the Democratic lawmaker told a sold-out National Press Club luncheon in Washington.

She coyly ducked a question on being a vice presidential candidate with former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in 2016. Mrs. Clinton first has to decide whether she will run for president, Ms. Davis noted.

Ms. Davis, 50, who represents Fort Worth, spent much of her noontime speech highlighting her background, passion for education and interest in working with Republicans on pro-Texas issues.

"I will seek common ground," she said, noting that she already "scooches" her chair across the Senate floor to work with colleagues. But she added that there are also times when "you have to take a stand on sacred ground."

Longtime Texas GOP Gov. Rick Perry said last month he would not run for another term next year. If she chooses to run for governor, Ms. Davis likely will face an uphill fight against Republican state Attorney General Greg Abbott.

Ms. Davis burst onto the national scene June 25, when she gathered her strength — fortified by pink running shoes, a back brace and, according to news reports, a catheter — to stand and talk, without breaks or support, from around 11 a.m. until after midnight, when the Texas legislative session ran out, effectively killing any unfinished legislation.

The target of her filibuster was a far-reaching pro-life bill that, among other things, required abortion clinics to meet standards of ambulatory surgical centers and other regulations. It also banned most abortions after 20 weeks, when the fetus is believed to be able to feel pain.

The bill is "a raw abuse of power," Ms. Davis said during her filibuster, in which she read numerous personal stories about abortion and clinic health services and survived repeated attempts by chamber Republicans to force her to stop talking. The talk went viral on YouTube.

Shortly after the filibuster, however, Mr. Perry called lawmakers back into another special session. The GOP-dominated chamber then passed the abortion bill and the governor signed it July 18.

Only five of Texas' 42 clinics were believed to meet the new law's requirements. Clinics have a year to upgrade or take other steps to come into compliance, but the law is likely to face a string of court challenges before it can be implemented.

But Ms. Davis' feat of political resistance captivated feminist and Democrat groups, and she was quickly lauded as a future senator, governor or White House candidate — a rare feat for a Texas Democrat. But pro-life forces say she would face a difficult gauntlet should she try for higher office.

Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, said Monday that Ms. Davis should be asked why she supports late-term abortions when opinion polls find that the public rejects them, and why she objects to health and safety laws on abortion clinics in light of the horrific conditions in the Philadelphia clinic of abortionist and convicted murderer Kermit Gosnell.

How does Ms. Davis speak for women when her position is so far "outside the mainstream?" Ms. Dannenfelser asked.

In her Monday talk, Ms. Davis said she supported the Supreme Court's ruling on when abortions can be performed.

She also told the story of her journey from divorced working mother to Fort Worth lawyer and lawmaker, and her appreciation for higher education: Holding her first college textbook, she said, was a deeply empowering experience.

Ms. Davis, who has had major fundraisers in recent weeks, is scheduled to speak at a San Francisco fundraiser Aug. 16 for Emily's List, which supports pro-choice candidates.

⦁ Seth McLaughlin contributed to this report.

© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

About the Author
Cheryl Wetzstein

Cheryl Wetzstein

Cheryl Wetzstein covers family and social issues as a national reporter for The Washington Times. She has been a reporter for three decades, working in New York City and Washington, D.C. Since joining The Washington Times in 1985, she has been a features writer, environmental and consumer affairs reporter, and assistant business editor.

Beginning in 1994, Mrs. Wetzstein worked exclusively ...

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