Democrats hope to carry filibuster anniversary energy into state convention

AUSTIN -- State Sen. Wendy Davis ended Wednesday night's filibuster anniversary rally in Austin with a setup.

"Tomorrow, Texas, because of you, because of your voices, we will win," Davis told the crowd of supporters gathered at the Palmer Events Center to celebrate the event that catapulted Davis to national prominence one year ago.

Beginning Thursday, thousands of Democrats hope to ride the same energy into the state party convention in Dallas.

"This is Wendy Davis' chance to finish up on a big week," said Democratic political consultant Jason Stanford. For those hoping the filibuster is remembered as the event that reinvigorated the state's minority party and returned it to statewide power, Wednesday was an important milestone.

"It reminds us all why Wendy Davis is Wendy Davis in all caps," said Stanford.

If elected, Davis would follow in the famed footsteps of Gov. Ann Richard, the last Democrat and only second woman to hold the job.

"Nothing would please mom more than to have another woman governor," Cecile Richards, daughter of the late governor and president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, told KVUE Wednesday. "I'm sure she's watching us somewhere."

A longtime supporter of Davis, Richards isn't discouraged by polls showing Davis 12 points behind Republican nominee for governor and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott.

"I like to remind people that mom was 27 points down in August before the election that she won," said Richards. "So our job now is simply to have the volunteers ready to make sure that we are telling people what the difference is between Greg Abbott and Wendy Davis when it comes to a whole host of issues that they care about."

Meanwhile, Abbott's campaign has erected anti-Davis billboards along the I-35 route from Austin to Dallas, and released a video featuring a late-term abortion survivor.

"She has defined herself as a single-issue candidate, and we know from RedState Women that women are not a single-issue voter," RedState Women executive director Cari Christman told KVUE Wednesday at a media conference celebrating the ultimate passage of the abortion legislation Davis filibustered. "They believe in education, they believe in the economy, they believe in issues that are important to them outside of just reproductive issues."

While the news from the Republican convention was led by platform showdowns over immigration and endorsing homosexual conversion therapy, Democrats say they don't expect much debate. Stanford says the platform could see minor tweaks in the language concerning national security, and expects candidates to appeal to members of the business community he suggests are wary of growing Tea party influence within the state GOP.

"Texas Democrats are pretty sure that we represent the mainstream of Texas now," said Stanford. "The Texas Republican party is debating about how radical they're going to be. That is the weird fight and it's really fun to watch them fight. A bunch of people getting along and agreeing isn't that interesting. But that's who we are."

In the end, the convention aims are the same for both parties: Unify the message, mobilize activists and get ready for the battle ahead.


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