She knows about single motherhood, and poverty. The 50-year-old Davis had to care for her three siblings at the age of 14 for her single mother, and became a single mother herself at the age of 19.
She knows the law. Davis became the first person in her family to graduate from college, with a degree from Texas Christian University and then Harvard Law School. She clerked, litigated, and spent a few years in the title insurance business before starting her own practice for federal and local government affairs, real estate, and contract compliance.
She put in her political time. Davis spent nine years on the Fort Worth City Council, focusing on neighborhood economic development. When she was elected to the state senate in 2008, she became the 12th Democrat in the upper chamber--just enough to keep the Republicans from closing off debate on bills.
She's one of the more successful users of the filibuster. In 2011, she used the tactic against a budget that underfunded the state's public schools by $5 billion, and two years later got most of the money replaced.
Republicans keep trying to shut her down. Her 2008 victory was a squeaker over the Republican incumbent, and she pulled out another in 2012 after federal courts threw out a Republican gerrymandering plan that would have put her in a much more conservative district. Again, she became the last vote needed to deny Republicans a filibuster-proof majority (The 2012 firebombing of her office appears to have been a random act by a mentally ill homeless person). After her 2011 filibuster, the Republican-led house stripped her of her position on the education committee.