The Texas Democratic Party and three allied groups launched online efforts Tuesday to persuade state Sen. Wendy Davis of Fort Worth to run for governor in 2014.
The coordinated effort by the state party, Battleground Texas, the Lone Star Project and Annie’s List is an attempt to line up donors and volunteers as the likelihood grows that Davis will start a campaign for governor soon after Labor Day.
Davis has said she will spend August determining whether the necessary support exists to make a potentially successful run for governor in a state where Democrats have not prevailed statewide in two decades. Tuesday’s blitz was intended to answer that in the affirmative.
“There is a consensus among people who are really looking at the 2014 election that we would like her to run, and we think she has the potential to win,” said Matt Angle, who founded the Lone Star Project in 2005 to help improve Democratic prospects in Texas. “We’re not saying it’s going to be easy. We know how steep the hill is.”
“We hope it encourages her to say yes,” Angle said. But he said he did not think the mounting pressure from friends and allies would box Davis in should she conclude that making a run for governor, instead of seeking re-election to the state Senate, is not the wisest move.
“Wendy Davis is certainly strong enough to say no,” Angle said. “She’s said no to me before.”
In its online message, the state party invites people to check off whether they would make phone calls, donate, raise money, knock on doors or work in a campaign office on Davis’ behalf.
Texas Democratic Party spokeswoman Tanene Allison said Tuesday’s efforts were aimed at usefully channeling the “palpable” excitement for a Davis candidacy that grew out of her filibuster against abortion legislation in late June. The Legislature ultimately passed the bill, which adds restrictions to abortion in Texas.
Battleground Texas, an independent organization launched earlier this year to help turn Texas Democratic, offers a free “We Want Wendy” bumper sticker to anyone who signs up online urging Davis to run.
The Lone Star Project appeal reads: “For weeks people all across Texas have told us they want Wendy Davis to run for Texas governor. … If she decides to run for Governor of Texas, she’ll be facing vicious partisan special interest attacks and will need all our help in fighting back.”
Annie’s List, which recruits, trains and funds female Democratic candidates, asks supporters to sign up to encourage Davis to run and indicate whether they would contribute, volunteer or host an event at their house.
In the past, Annie’s List has contributed more than $665,000 to Davis, who has twice been elected to the Senate from her keenly contested district.
“We saw our network go down a little while this morning; there were so many people going to our website to take a look at it,” Executive Director Grace Garcia said. “I can’t remember a time when there was this type of grass-roots support and encouragement for one person to run.”
At the National Press Club last week, Davis said she would either seek re-election to the Senate or run for governor. Spokeswoman Sonya Grogg said the announcement would come soon after Labor Day, Sept. 2.
The Republican field consists of Attorney General Greg Abbott and Tom Pauken, former chairman of the Texas Workforce Commission.