HALTOM CITY — Democrat Wendy Davis promised a more populist and bipartisan state government in Texas as she declared her long-anticipated candidacy for governor Thursday, but she didn’t mention abortion rights, the subject that brought her to national attention.
Speaking before a hometown crowd where she received her high school diploma, the Fort Worth state senator tried to stake out the middle ground, vowing to represent the working class and improve public education, economic development and health care to Texas.
“Texans don’t want to sit back and watch Austin turn into Washington, D.C.,” Davis said. “State leaders in power keep forcing people to opposite corners to prepare for a fight instead of coming together to get things done.”
Davis has said her experience going from being a single teen mother living in a trailer to a successful Harvard-trained attorney in the Texas Senate informed her political views. She said Texas needed to be “a lot less lone and a lot more star.”
“Until the families who are burning the candle at both ends can finally make ends meet, we will keep going. Until the amazing health care advances being pioneered in this state reach everyone who needs them, we will keep going,” she said to about 1,500 people at the Wiley G. Thomas Coliseum.
Davis then blasted “the current leadership” in Austin for creating a partisan atmosphere and appealing to the right wing of the Republican Party.
“Texans deserve better than failed leaders who dole out favors to friends and cronies behind closed doors,” she said. “It’s time for a governor who believes that you don’t have to buy a place in Texas’ future. It’s time for a governor who believes that the future of Texas belongs to all of us.”
Republican Gov. Rick Perry has chosen not to seek re-election next year. The front-runner for the GOP nomination is Attorney General Greg Abbott, who said in an interview with The Associated Press on Thursday that Davis is too liberal for Texas.
Davis rose to national prominence in June for her nearly 13-hour filibuster against new abortion restrictions in Texas, but she didn’t mention the subject Thursday. Instead, she talked about her 2011 filibuster to block passage of the state budget after the Republican majority cut $5 billion for public schools.
Davis’ opponents plan to use her support for abortion rights to rally conservative Christian voters next fall. About 40 anti-abortion demonstrators marched outside the venue where Davis was speaking Thursday, and Texas Right to Life plans to begin airing an ad over the weekend that calls her an “abortion zealot.”
Abbott called her filibuster “inconsequential” and sought to tie her to President Barack Obama.
“Obama’s political operation is the muscle behind Wendy Davis’ political operation,” Abbott said. “She is an extremist with regards to imposing the kind of spending and regulation that’s reckless for government.”