Wendy Davis, Who Rose to Fame With Filibuster, Will Run for Congress in Texas

Wendy Davis, a former Democratic nominee for governor of Texas whose marathon filibuster as a state senator turned her into an overnight political star, said Monday that she would run for a House seat held by a freshman Republican.

Her bid to challenge the incumbent, Chip Roy, comes about six years after she stood and talked for more than 11 hours to temporarily halt passage of an anti-abortion bill.

Ms. Davis’s effort vaulted her onto the national political scene — momentum that led her to run for governor in 2014.

But the bill she filibustered eventually passed, and she lost the 2014 election to Greg Abbott by more than 20 percentage points.

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Texas Democrats have slowly made gains since, picking up two House seats in the 2018 midterms as Beto O’Rourke came within three percentage points of besting Senator Ted Cruz.

“I’m running for Congress because people’s voices are still being silenced,” Ms. Davis said in a video she posted on Twitter. “Even in losing, we help shape the future.”

Ms. Davis has often leaned on her back story to inspire voters and demonstrate her tenacity.

Now 56, she gave birth to her first child as a teenager. She made her way from junior college into Harvard Law School before winning a seat on the Fort Worth City Council and later a seat in the Texas Senate.

In 2011, she filibustered a budget bill that included huge cuts to public education, forcing then-Gov. Rick Perry to call a special legislative session, where it passed.

Then, on June 25, 2013, Ms. Davis began another filibuster in another special session: to block Senate Bill 5. It sought to ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy and impose other requirements that critics said would force most of the 42 abortion clinics in the state to close.

She did not sit, eat, drink or use the bathroom until she was finished speaking. After various objections and pandemonium, the session officially ended and the bill was declared dead. (The next month, Mr. Perry reintroduced the bill in another special session, and it passed.)

Exactly 100 days after the filibuster Ms. Davis announced that she would run for governor.

No Democrat had occupied the governor’s mansion since January 1995, the last day of Gov. Ann W. Richards’s tenure. Although Ms. Davis raised millions of dollars, she remained far behind Mr. Abbott in polls. She went on to lose by almost one million votes.

By running in the 21st District — a part of Central Texas that includes slices of Austin and San Antonio — Ms. Davis may already be facing better odds than when she ran statewide.

Mr. Roy, a former chief of staff to Senator Ted Cruz, won his seat in 2018 by less than three percentage points and has since gained attention for blocking final passage of a long-delayed disaster relief bill. He cited concerns that $4.5 billion for the southwestern border had been left out of the package.

A month later, he faced the wrath of fellow lawmakers angered by his efforts to force dozens of votes late into the night.

In a tweet on Monday, Mr. Roy called Ms. Davis’s views “radical” and “extreme” and pledged to “continue fighting for the hardworking families of #Tx21.”

After she left the State Senate, Ms. Davis founded a nonprofit aimed at empowering young women. Her campaign website said she was running for Congress “to be a voice for those who are forgotten and, worse, ignored.”

“Win or lose, it’s about doing what’s right,” she said. “Because I’m a Texan. And Texans don’t quit.”

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