AUSTIN (KXAN) - The chairman of the state Democratic Party threw his influence behind the effort to woo state Sen Wendy Davis into the 2014 race for governor.
State Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa used the Democratic Party's website not only to urge lawmaker to enter the race, but also to rally the party faithful to join the cause.
"I want Senator Wendy Davis to be the next Governor of Texas," wrote on the website on Tuesday. "If we're going to win this thing, we're going to need thousands of Texans like you to join a grassroots movement to elect Senator Davis."
That a top party official would announce a favorite in a statewide race before the primary -- much less before a candidate had even entered the race -- speaks to the paucity of available talent in the once-dominant Texas Democratic Party. No Democrat has won a statewide race since 1994 and none has won with out the benefit of incumbency since 1990.
But Davis, a second-term senator from Fort Worth, shot to prominence in late June by filibustering a a Republican-backed bill to restrict abortion rights. Davis' 11-hour speech derailed the measure, at least temporarily, but the drew national attention from abortion rights activists and from the pundit class.
Before the filibuster, Davis shrugged off any suggestion that she'd seek statewide office. But after, she began doing the things that politicians with an eye on higher office do: Raising a lot of money and speaking before influential audiences.
Last week at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., Davis said she's considering a run for governor. She later said that her decision, expected around Labor Day, would hinge on whether there was a tangible way to break the GOP's choke hold on Texas politics.
Hinojosa's plea for grassroots support was an effort to show unity among the activists. Then later on Tuesday, the Democratic organization Battleground Texas, which is closely aligned with President Barack Obama's political operation, but out a "We Want Wendy" message on its website.
"Texas voters are waiting for a candidate like Wendy to step up and do something no Democrat has done for more than two decades in this state: win a statewide race," wrote Battleground Texas director Jenn Brown, who was Obama's field director in Ohio last year.
"I believe she can do it. But before she makes a decision, Wendy needs to know that you're behind her."
With Gov. Rick Perry opting not to seek a fourth term, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott is the frontrunner for the Republican nomination for governor next year. Former Texas Workforce Commission Chairman Tom Pauken is also running in the 2014 GOP primary.
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