Davis narrowly retained her Senate seat during elections last year, but her victory allowed the Democrats to hold 12 of the chamber's 31 seats, just enough to block contentious bills from coming to the floor. She is up for re-election again in 2014, though Democratic operatives have already begun a whisper campaign urging her to run for governor.
A Democrat hasn't won statewide office in Texas since 1994, but those whispers are sure to get louder now. An email from Battleground Texas, a much-ballyhooed effort by former Obama campaign veterans to energize Latino voters and turn the state blue, read Wednesday: "Last night an incredible thing happened. Wendy Davis stood up to Texas Republicans."
Davis has clashed with the GOP almost since arriving at the Capitol, earning derision and respect for her ability to dissect a complex bill and make her opponents squirm under tough questioning.
In 2011, she led a short filibuster on the final night of the regular session that torpedoed a key budget bill to allow the state to cut more than $4 billion from public education. Despite warnings that the filibuster would be futile because Perry would immediately call lawmakers back into special session to pass the bill again, Davis and Democrats carried on, taking the short-term victory — much like Tuesday's may also turn out to be.
An avid runner and cyclist, Davis was in good shape for the physical challenge of standing and talking for nearly half a day.
Because the rules didn't allow her to sit down, her chair was removed. Davis, who at one point fought tears to read testimony from women opposed to the bill, shifted her weight from hip to hip and paced around her desk to stay sharp as the hours ticked by.
Later, a colleague helped her with a back brace, prompting a complaint from a Republican lawmaker.
"My back hurts," Davis said when it was over. "I don't have a lot of words left."
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