Wendy Davis, the Texas State Senator who catapulted into national recognition with her filibuster in the Texas Senate last week, returns to Austin today, for the beginning of a second special legislative session, and where, at noon a Stand With Texas Women rally will take place. The rally ““ with predictions of 6000 attending ““ will signal the next public move in what was called the “people’s filibuster” in the House (where Republican legislators eventually passed the bill significantly restricting abortions). In the Senate, the effort became the Wendy Davis filibuster. After about eleven hours, Davis was forced to stop, by the decisions of Lt. Gov. Dewhurst. At that point, other Democratic senators began running out the clock.
One of those was Sen. Leticia Van De Putte, who near the end of the remaining time asked Dewhurst, “At what point must a female senator raise her hand or her voice to be recognized over her male colleagues?” That set off the until then largely quiet crowd in the gallery, whose cheers and yells then basically ran out the last ten minutes or so of the special session. They, and the many more outside, where still there when Dewhurst finally acknowledged at about 3:00 AM that the vote he initially said had passed the bill had ““ as everyone watching the clock already knew ““ occurred too late.
As expected, Gov. Perry called a second special session. With the votes in both House and Senate, passage is considered likely.
But the efforts in opposition, in both House and Senate, the presence of thousands, and the national attention all of this is receiving, have combined to create one of those critical points that can mark, if not an immediate change in power, then a shift, one that isn’t just about Wendy Davis, though it’s certainly includes that.
In this video, Davis talks about what happened in the Senate the other night, concluding with:
“˜That moment, when people chose to stand and give voice to their values … Gov. Perry, that was not a lack of decorum, that was not disorder, that was democracy.’
At the Texas Tribune:
… Davis …, wrapped up a week in the national spotlight with appearances on the network affiliate Sunday talk shows.
On her morning rounds, Davis said she expected her Republican colleagues to “˜try to be a little bit smarter’ with their approach to passing abortion restrictions … . This time, she said, “˜what they have to confront is that the eyes of Texas, the eyes of the country, are watching.’
They certainly didn’t seem to get that before.
As for Davis, in addition to accolades and a near non-stop round of interviews, she met with Democratic Governors Association chairman Peter Shumlin, and as the Texas Tribune summed things up, Davis may decide to go for a statewide office, including governor, in 2014. As another Tribune article puts it, however, For Davis, Opportunity Knocks at Inopportune Time.
Wendy Davis is never going to see a better moment for a statewide run for office, even though the odds of a Democrat winning statewide in Texas could not be worse.
In some ways, Perry has helped Davis, with his criticisms of her, and he’s been taken to task by some from his own party. Via Think Progress:
… Perry … was widely criticized after personally attacking … Davis … by saying that “˜she was a teenage mother herself’ who unfortunately “˜hasn’t learned from her own example.’
… Texas House Speaker Joe Straus “” a staunch Republican “” is distancing himself from the governor. “˜Disagreements over policy are important …, but when he crosses the line into the personal, then he damages himself and … the Republican Party’ … .
Whatever Special Session II strategies, the votes to pass the bills are there. From Politico:
Eleven states so far have passed 20-week bans “” or earlier “” on most abortions. Four have been blocked at least for now by courts because they conflict with Roe v. Wade. …
Even Davis … concedes that such a measure may pass this time around. …
“˜ … I was able to do this filibuster because this bill came to the floor on the last day of the special session … . It’s not likely … they’ll make that … mistake again.’
The possibility this will be settled in the courts seems good. From Politico:
The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals last month struck down an Arizona abortion ban at about 20 weeks, and a similar law was struck in Idaho. But the issue “” as well as the related wave of new regulations being imposed on abortion clinics “” could make its way to the Supreme Court.
In addition to the attention on Davis, there’s been some real shock, from Right and Left, about the fact that there is so much opposition to the bills in Texas. Maybe seeing a shift into this kind of action in a state so many seem to think (incorrectly) is a monolithic block of Red will provide some encouragement for voters on the Left nationwide (including independents). Maybe it will push more Democratic Electeds to get a backbone. Maintaining this level of public engagement is a big challenge, but the last week or so has awakened people to their power. Now the need is for persistence. That’s probably the key about what happens next ““ persistence. Which gets us back to that shift, and what it means, say in 2014, for Davis, and for the long-term efforts to “turn Texas blue,” or at least purple.