AUSTIN (CBS 11 NEWS) – One day after leading the fight to kill a bill with strict new abortion restrictions, Democratic State Senator Wendy Davis says she’s still overwhelmed by the political drama that unfolded in the Senate chamber. Davis says, “It was really a demonstration of democracy and action.”
The chanting crowds and her all day filibuster ran out the clock for passing the measure and made national headlines.
But Davis credits the grass roots. “People in the gallery were so frustrated because what they’d seen all day was the Lt. Governor, the presiding officer was riding roughshod over the rules of the Senate in order to cram this bill down Texans’ throats.”
Lt. Governor David Dewhurst called the crowd in the gallery an unruly mob.
Dewhurst and several Republican Senators we called were unavailable for interviews.
Sherri Greenberg is the Director for Politics and Governance at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at UT Austin. “I have really never seen this type of meltdown in the Texas Senate.”
For Democrats she says, “Certainly, it’s a victory, but I don’t see how it can be a lasting one.”
That’s because Republicans still control both the House and Senate.
And she believes Republican leaders will start with the abortion bill, so there’s plenty of time for debate, which eliminates the need to filibuster. “When you don’t push until the very end of the calendar, the end of the session, then the filibuster doesn’t work. You can’t filibuster for ten days.”
So with all of the national attention Davis has received, I asked her if she’s considering a run for Governor or State Attorney General. “What I’m inspired by is that I think Texans are going to rise up and demand new leadership.”
Is Davis going to be that leader for the Democrats?
She says, “I can’t say that I don’t think that for a hope in my future.”
Greenberg says while Democrats are now invigorated, it’s still extremely difficult for the party to win statewide. Texas is still very conservative.
Here is more of Sen. Wendy Davis’ conversation with CBS 11’s Jack Fink:
On whether Republicans will be able to pass SB5 in the second special session:
Davis: “You know I don’t think they’ll win regardless of whether they pass that bill and yesterday was a demonstration of that. People who have worked in this capital for decades said that they’ve never seen anything like what happened here yesterday. Thousands of people from all over the state came to add their voices of concern to this issue and what they understand is that this bill in the name of promoting health care for women actually will endanger their health. We’ll be left with only 5 clinics standing in the state of Texas after these rules go in place, and along with some of the other rules that were included in that bill taking a giant step backward toward promoting women’s health in the state.”
On whether she would lead another filibuster in the second special session:
“If they give us the opportunity. What happened here was that Senate Democrats worked really well with House Democrats to get that bill over as late as possible and provide that opportunity. I don’t know if we will have that opportunity again. The special session lasts for 30 days obviously they will try to be …smarter about how they move the bill.”