The announcement of Democrat rising star state Sen. Wendy Davis’ run for Texas governor gave area Democrats a reason to be optimistic about the race for the first time in decades.
In Killeen, a small watch party of supporters erupted into cheers as they watched the Fort Worth legislator over a streaming Web feed declare her candidacy.
“Yes!” said Nolanville resident Irene Andrews, a special education teacher, as Davis made the eagerly anticipated announcement. Andrews then high-fived Sandra Blankenship, a local nurse.
“I think it is time for political diversification in Texas,” said Arturo Gomez, who hosted the party at his home on Greenwood Avenue.
Harker Heights resident Laura Allen, vice president of Texas Democratic Women, went to Davis’ announcement event Thursday with a group of Bell County women. Allen described the atmosphere as “electric.”
“(Davis) really represents Texas values and will represent every Texan, not just a few,” Allen said.
Despite Davis’ star power, winning the election will be a tall order. No Democrat has won state office in nearly 20 years. And Bell County is no different.
Republicans have held a strong advantage in the county since the late 1990s when southern Democrats switched to the other side of the aisle in droves. All county elected offices have remained solidly red for more than 10 years.
However, in the past year, efforts to turn the county and the state blue have begun to creep in since President Barack Obama won re-election in 2012.
Multiple supporters of Battleground Texas, a nonprofit with the sole mission of turning Texas into a blue state, were present at Gomez’s party. To them, the voters are already here, they just need to be motivated.
“We can win this race if people just come to the polls and vote,” said Dion McFall, president of Stonewall Democrats Central Texas, a group that focuses on gay rights.