“I was impressed, particularly in Texas,” she said. “I’m hopeful that this is the start of something bigger.”
The abortion debate has revived in Washington as well following the conviction last month of Philadelphia physician Kermit Gosnell, who was found guilty of three acts of first-degree murder in the deaths of infants born alive while he was performing late-term abortions.
Last week, the Republican-led U.S. House passed a bill that would ban almost all abortions after 20 weeks’ gestation. While the bill stands no chance in the Senate and is constitutionally questionable, its supporters say it will be an isssue that energizes conservative voters in the 2014 elections.
“Just talking about the economy all the time, jobs and the economy, doesn’t motivate people to get out and vote,” said Marilyn Musgrave (R), a former congresswoman from Colorado who now serves as a vice president of the Susan B. Anthony List, an organization that recruits antiabortion women candidates to run for office.
Davis’s own political future has also become a hot topic.
As a newcomer to a legislature that meets in regular session for only 140 days every other year, the former city councilwoman was named “rookie of the year” by Texas Monthly magazine in 2009, and made the magazine’s list of 10 best lawmakers this year.
Davis had already established a reputation for stepping up in a fight. The filibuster on the antiabortion legislation was actually her second of note; in 2011, she did the same in the closing hours of the legislative term in an attempt to stop a budget bill that included education cuts. Perry was forced to call a special session to get them through.
So it is no surprise that she has become one of the GOP’s top electoral targets. Next year, she is up for reelection in a district where she has eked out two narrow wins. The question now is whether she takes advantage of her newfound stardom to make a bid for statewide office — something no Texas Democrat has won since 1994.
“Last night, she clearly became a person of heroic proportions to a lot of Democrats, to a lot of women and a lot of young people,” University of Texas political scientist and pollster James Henson said Wednesday. “In the long to medium run, another reality will set in — this is still a very Republican state.”
Juliet Eilperin and Peter Wallsten contributed to this report. Smith, a reporter for the Texas Tribune, contributed from Austin.