Former Texas state senator Wendy Davis on Monday launched a Democratic challenge to freshman Rep. Chip Roy (R-Tex.), who has established himself as a brash and unapologetic conservative after squeaking into office last year.
Davis garnered national attention in 2013 for a 13-hour-long filibuster on Texas legislation that included restrictive abortion regulations. The following year, she lost a race for Texas governor to then-State Attorney General Greg Abbott.
Davis’s congressional bid marks her first attempt since then to return to elected office.
“I’ve learned I’m at my best when I’m fighting for people,” Davis says in a largely biographical video announcing her candidacy. “I’m running for Congress because people’s voices are still being silenced. I’m running for our children and grandchildren, so they can live and love and fight for change themselves.”
The video is narrated in part using archival footage from Davis’s late father, actor Jerry Russell.
Roy, 46, made headlines in May when he was the lone Republican to block swift passage of a disaster-relief package for millions of Americans, including many in Texas.
More recently, he spent several nights sitting in a mostly empty House chamber demanding roll-call votes on dozens of uncontroversial amendments in what he billed as an attempt to prod Congress into addressing the crisis at the Southern border.
Roy prevailed in Texas’s 21st Congressional District last year in a race against Democrat Joseph Kopser, an entrepreneur and Army veteran. The district includes territory north of San Antonio and a significant portion of Austin.
In a message to supporters later Monday, Roy said “it’s official” that Davis is running and repeatedly called her “Extreme Wendy.”
“She shot to fame a few years ago for standing 13 hours to defend late-term abortion,” he said. “That’s an extreme position, even among the pro-abortion ranks, and far outside the mainstream of most Texans and Americans.”
Roy predicted Davis would raise a lot of money from outside Texas, calling her a “national liberal darling.”
In an interview with The Washington Post last month, Roy sounded dismissive of a potential Davis candidacy.
“If Wendy Davis wants to run, she’s welcome to run,” he said. “If the [Democrats] want to pile up a big pile of money in the streets of Austin and light it on fire coming after me, they’re welcome to do so.”