10 Facts About Wendy Davis, the Rookie State Senator From Texas
The filibuster has skyrocketed some politicians into the spotlight this year. The newest example of this phenomenon is Wendy Davis, the Texas state senator who single-handedly filibustered a Texas abortion bill for 11 hours. PolicyMic pundits Elizabeth Plank and Jeffrey Web have already offered great coverage on the filibuster and Davis, and here are 10 additional facts about the rookie champion who has talked her way out of abortion legislation and into national news ...
1. She grew up in a broken home
A daughter of four, Wendy Davis was born in Texas and raised by a single mother with only a sixth grade education.
2. She was not a child prodigy
Senator Davis describes herself as "one of those children who fell through the cracks." With only one school counselor in a large student body, Davis never thought much about college. Instead, she got married out of high school, divorced, and found herself facing the same position as her mother.
3. But she graduated first in her class at TCU and went onto Harvard Law
Daunted by her lack of options, Davis was handed a brochure for becoming a paralegal from her coworker. She enrolled in classes at Tarrant County College, working full-time and waitressing at night. There, she found her dream of "being a lawyer, not the lawyer's assistant." She transferred to Texas Christian University after receiving a scholarship. After her graduation, she was accepted to Harvard Law School.
4. She was elected to the state Senate in 2008
During law school, she volunteered at a legal services center where she was encouraged to become a public servant. Davis thought that she would chose a more lucrative career, but states that "there was a void, because that [public service] was something I cared deeply about."
After serving 9 years in the Fort Worth City Council, Davis was elected as a representative to the 10th District of Texas (which includes Tarrant County and Fort Worth).
5. She doesn't have much in common with Governor Perry ... except great hair
Although the two are from a different political spectrum, it is joked that Davis is the only one in the state with better hair than Rick Perry. Her personal life and fashion choices prove as much of a media draw as her political acts.
6. This wasn't her first filibuster
In May of 2011, at the end of the session, Wendy also led a filibuster on education funding. After meeting with House Democrats who urged her to help them combat the budget cuts to education, Davis and allies agreed to address the Senate to try to block the bill. This filibuster was given moderate media coverage and was Wendy's first introduction to the spotlight.
7. Her Committee memberships include ...
The Senate Select Committee on Open Government (Davis is the Vice-Chair), the Committee on Economic Development, the Committee on Transportation, and the Veteran Affairs and Military Installations Committee.
During her time on the City Council, she focused on many of the same issues, including neighborhood development.
8. She has won numerous awards for work in Education and Women's Health
The "Bold Woman Award" from Girls Inc., "Freshman of the Year" from AARP, "Champion for the Children Award" from the Equity Center, and "Texas Women's Health Champion Award" from the Texas Association of OB-GYNs.
Davis has stated that she tries to still act like a City Council member when representing her district and resisting pressures from Lobbyists in the Senate. In line with this philosophy, the readers of Fort Worth Weekly voted her as "The Best Servant of the People", and she was chosen by Texas Weekly as the "Rookie of the Year" in 2009.
9. Her family life ...
Married twice and twice divorced. Davis has two grown daughters. Her first marriage ended when she was still a teenager, leaving her a single mother at 19 living in a trailer park. Her second marriage ended in 2003. She was also romantically linked to former Austin Mayor Will Wynn.
10. Her political future is unclear
Following a redistricting in 2011 that cut out many blacks and Latinos from her district, it seemed like a blow for the democrats in the 10th district. In another blow, Davis was then drawn for a 2 year reelection campaign, making her next State Senate race in 2014. Ironically, her seat was saved by the VRA (Voting Rights Act) that was "gutted" in the Supreme Court this week.
Unlike Rand Paul's filibuster, the political effects of the national spotlight on Davis's career are less clear. She has stated that she plans on running for re-election for the State Senate, but political ambitions in national Congress seem risky given the conservative nature of her state if she wanted to move further. Time will tell whether yesterday's filibuster will be lightning in a bottle or Davis's ephemeral 15-minutes of fame.