Democrat Wendy Davis, an abortion-rights advocate, has declared her candidacy for governor of Texas.
In an email to supporters, the Texas state senator promised Thursday to represent the interests of middle-class residents, focusing on education, economic development, and healthcare. She was expected to make a formal announcement later in the day at a rally in Haltom City.
The Fort Worth lawmaker came to national attention in June for her nearly 13-hour filibuster that helped temporarily block new statewide abortion restrictions. The law later passed.
Since her filibuster, Democratic activists have called on Davis to break a 17-year losing streak for Texas governor.
Attorney General Greg Abbott is the front-runner for the Republican nomination. He's raised $25 million, compared to Davis' current war chest of a little more than $1 million.
Republican Gov. Rick Perry has chosen not to seek re-election.
Experts say Davis and the political action committees supporting her will need to spend about $40 million to make it a competitive campaign in Texas, but changing state demographics give Davis a chance to end the party's 18-year losing streak for governor, Democratic consultants say.
Davis' personal story — from a trailer park to Texas Christian University to esteemed Harvard Law School — has captured the imagination of many of her supporters.
She was a successful attorney when she decided to enter politics by challenging a veteran Republican state senator in Tarrant County in 2008. She narrowly won that race and a tough re-election bid in 2012, when most voters in her district cast ballots for GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
Observers say her ability to win Republican crossover votes will be critical if she expects to beat Abbott, who has the full strength of the GOP establishment behind him.
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