All that led to a predictable conclusion: victory for abortion opponents. Amid noisy demonstrations in and around the state capitol in Austin by people on both sides, the bill was approved by wide margins on largely party-line votes in both the House and the Senate.
Perry and Republican lawmakers simply ground down the Democratic opposition, as they have been doing in state elections for most of the past two decades.
Democrats look at the changing demographics of Texas — a growing Hispanic population and an aging white Anglo population — and see an inevitable comeback. But the Democrats haven’t elected anyone to statewide office since the 1990s, and the prospects for doing so in 2014 are bleak, even though there is likely to be a wholesale turnover in those offices in next year’s election.
Democrats may have demographic forces on their side, but for now they lack many of the core components of successful campaigns. They are short of money, woefully short of candidates for the available statewide offices and still looking for a way to persuade a conservative electorate to start considering them again.
For Davis, all that makes for a discouraging stew. She galvanized Democrats in Texas and nationally with her filibuster and now is coming under great pressure to run for governor next year. Were Texas anything close to a competitive state, it would be an easy decision; given its current makeup, it is anything but.
Davis, who would have to sacrifice her Senate seat for an uphill challenge in the governor’s race, remains noncommittal in her public comments.
“I’ve been honestly honored that people are talking about that,” she said in an interview before the final votes on the abortion bill were taken. “I’ll make my own decision in my time, and I’ll do the one that I think is right for me and that I think is right for the state.”
Davis is aware that partisan divisions favor the Republicans but says she believes there is an opportunity now for a different kind of debate. “I do take exception with the fact the people vote only with partisanship in mind,” she said. “There is an awakening in Texas and elsewhere that leadership has left them behind. . . . I think Texans are wanting leadership that reflects them. If there’s an opportunity as a consequence of that, yes, I believe it exists today more strongly than it has for a long time.”