Wendy Davis, the Texas state senator famous for staging a filibuster against sweeping abortion restrictions, announced Thursday that she will run for governor of the state.
"Texas is a place where we aim high and we take big risks," Davis told hundreds of cheering supporters at a rally outside Fort Worth. "We're builders, and doers, leaders, and dreamers. We love Texas, not only for how good it is, but for how great we know it can be."
The announcement ends months of speculation over the political future of the 50-year-old Democrat, who gained national attention when she talked for nearly 11 hours on the Texas Senate floor in June to temporarily block new restrictions on abortion.
Davis, a second-term state senator, saw her popularity skyrocket when her stand in the now-famous pink running shoes drew thousands of demonstrators to the state Capitol and played out in live streams on websites across the United States.
The bill would have banned most abortions after 20 weeks and imposed strict new requirements on clinics. It eventually passed, but Davis' newfound popularity continued and she was able to add $1 million to her campaign coffers.
The second-term senator seeks the spot held by Republican Gov. Rick Perry, the former presidential contender who has said he will not seek re-election, to be decided in a Nov. 2014 election.
Davis, who defeated a Republican incumbent to win election to the Texas Senate in 2008, made the announcement at a rally Thursday afternoon at the coliseum where she received her high school diploma, in the working-class Fort Worth suburb of Haltom City. About two dozen anti-abortion protesters carried signs outside the coliseum during the event.
“Senator Davis has a proven record of fighting for our families, and as Governor she will secure an even brighter future for Texas,” reads a statement from Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa, posted to the Party’s website.
Later Thursday evening the Republican Party of Texas posted on Twitter a link to therealwendy.com, an anti-Davis site funded by the Republican Party.
“Texas Senator Wendy Davis is too liberal for Texas, too partisan, and she is out of touch with our state,” the site says.
Both parties’ offices were closed at the time of the announcement, and could not be reached for comment.
Assuming Davis gets her party's nomination next spring, her likely opponent would be current GOP frontrunner, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott.
Abbott has amassed a war chest close to $25 million, but early polling gives Davis supporters cause for some optimism.
A poll conducted in September by nonpartisan group Texas Lyceum shows Davis trailing Abbott by just 8 percentage points in the race for governor of Texas, which has not had a Democratic governor since Ann Richards left office in 1995.
Al Jazeera with Reuters