Let me just say that I hope Sen. Wendy Davis slept in yesterday, and did nothing more strenuous than channel surfing and ordering takeout. She’s earned a lazy day, and a lot more than that. And while she (hopefully) took a well-deserved rest, the media spotlight continued to shine on her.
By the time the Senate unsuccessfully forced the vote on some of the nation’s strictest abortion regulations, the 13 hours Davis had spent on her feet challenging the measure had gone viral, drawing praise on social media from President Obama, U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and celebrities like author Judy Blume and actors Lena Dunham and Henry Winkler.
“I have never seen a Texas senator suddenly make world news over the course of 13 hours,” said longtime Democratic consultant Harold Cook. “I’m not sure it was possible before Twitter, honestly. At the start of the day, this was a local story. By the end, it was an international story.”
The attention has prompted even more speculation that the Fort Worth Democrat, who was first elected to the Senate in 2008, could be a future statewide contender — even a gubernatorial candidate. At a minimum, she is poised to have a wider fundraising base if she seeks re-election in 2014.
Republican consultant Matt Mackowiak predicted that her fundraising potential was now “unlimited.”
“If they were doing really smart things — some of the things Ted Cruz‘s campaign did in the last U.S. Senate race — she can raise millions of dollars over the next couple of months online alone,” he said. “I think she may be able to do that anyway.”
As of late Tuesday night, roughly 200,000 people were watching the proceedings on The Texas Tribune’s YouTube feed. Obama tweeted, “Something special is happening in Austin tonight,” followed by the hashtag “#StandWithWendy.” Even filmmaker Michael Moore and comedian Sarah Silverman got in on the social media action.
Davis started the day with just 1,200 twitter followers; by early Wednesday morning she had more than 46,000.
“Because of the way this worked out, from a procedural and strategic standpoint,” Mackowiak said, “I think the Republican leadership in both chambers of the Legislature unwittingly helped create a national Texas Democratic star.”
Way many reactions from the day after:
Kos again, with a “Draft Wendy?” post
The Slacktivist, who would like there to be singing the next time this happens. I think he’s onto something there.
And pretty much everywhere else on the Internet. Mashable has a nice social media roundup, Buzzfeed did its Buzzfeed-y thing, and the Observer and Trib have excellent slideshows from the chamber. I think the one with the five forlorn (white male) Republican State Reps from the Trib is my favorite. And if you still can’t get enough, here’s the interview I did with Sen. Davis prior to the 2012 election. Oh, and because the Internet clearly demanded it, here’s the Texas Senate Clock’s Twitter feed. You’re welcome.
At the end of the day yesterday, Rick Perry announced Special Session 2, to finish the issues that were killed by Davis’ heroic filibuster. That will give Davis another chance to fight, however unlikely her success will be, and to give David Dewhurst another chance to make a fool of himself. We all knew this was coming – as I said yesterday, I don’t understand why the Rs didn’t cut bait in the evening and have Perry make the announcement then. If this makes you mad, that’s good, as long as you channel it into something productive. If this makes you feel in despair, please snap out of it. If Wendy Davis can stand and talk for 11 hours straight without any kind of break to make sure that her voice and the voices of women across Texas were heard, the least we can do is honor her effort by not moping about this inevitable piece of news.
We need everyone who has paid even cursory attention to this story to hold onto it at least until next November. Midterm elections are all about who shows up. The Republicans showed us the key to winning in 2010. Like they did then, we need a bunch of our every-four-year voters to break that pattern next year and show up to make their voices heard. I’ve said before that if the same number of people who voted for John Kerry in Texas in 2004 turned out in 2014, Democrats would likely sweep the statewide offices. It’s not rocket science. We still need the candidates, but Lord knows we ought to have all the incentive we could need. You want to #StandWithWendy? Make sure everyone you know that needs to vote next year does so. Winning elections is the best revenge. Hair Balls, BOR, and Stace have more.