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On Filibuster Anniversary, Davis Targets "GOP Insiders"

Before a large crowd at an Austin convention center, gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis and fellow Democrats gave impassioned speeches on Wednesday night, the anniversary of the filibuster that launched Davis into the national spotlight — and to the top of the Democrats’ statewide ticket.

While invoking the history of one year ago, Davis’ message moved beyond the issues of women’s health and abortion rights to a broader criticism of the state’s Republican leadership, whom she labeled as “insiders." 

The campaign of Greg Abbott, her Republican opponent, took the anniversary’s occasion to link Davis to the issue of abortion and paint her as out of touch with “Texas values.”

Months ahead of the November election, Davis is tapping into the movement that turned out in full force for what Democrats have called the “people’s filibuster,” when Davis stood for 11 hours to stop, temporarily, a bill that restricted access to abortion.

Davis has faced criticism from some on the left for being largely quiet on the issue of abortion since announcing her gubernatorial bid, and Republicans have called her out for making comments describing herself as “pro-life.” Davis addressed the issue head-on Wednesday night, criticizing Abbott for opposing abortion even in cases of rape and incest. It was her only time to use the word, repeatedly referencing women's "personal decisions." But abortion rights were hardly the crux of Davis’ Wednesday night attacks on Abbott, whom she called distant from “hardworking Texans.”

“I still can’t explain what it was that captured the hearts and the minds of so many Texans, of so many people around this country,” during the filibuster, Davis said. “People do want and need somebody to stand up to speak truth to power."

Wednesday night's anniversary was an opportunity for Democrats to energize their base ahead of the state party’s convention this weekend. Wednesday’s speakers, including state Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, and state Rep. Senfronia Thompson, D-Houston, made fiery attacks against the state's Republican leadership, accusing them of failing to listen to everyday voters. 

“Fight back,” Thompson commanded, nearly shouting into the microphone. “We will fight back.”

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