AUSTIN, Texas (CN) – Democrat Wendy Davis, the former Texas state senator who famously spent 11 straight hours filibustering against a Republican-led anti-abortion bill, announced Monday that she will challenge freshman Congressman Chip Roy in 2020.
Davis’ entrance into the race for the Austin-based congressional district came on the same morning that longtime state Senator Royce West announced he would join the crowded list of Democrats hoping to unseat Republican U.S. Senator John Cornyn.
Davis, an abortion rights advocate who served on the Fort Worth City Council before being elected to the Texas Senate in 2008, declared her intentions in a video released on Monday.
“I’m running for Congress because people’s voices are still being silenced,” she said. “I’m running for our children and grandchildren so they can live and love and fight for change themselves.”
A graduate of Harvard Law School, Davis rose to Democratic prominence in 2013 in the aftermath of her 11-hour filibuster in the state Senate in an attempt to block a proposed ban on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. She announced a gubernatorial run that fall, but lost the race to Republican Governor Greg Abbott by 20 percentage points the following year.
Davis remained a national figure, campaigning in 2016 for Hillary Clinton, appearing as a commentator on cable news, and speaking at events across the country. She is now an Austin resident and most recently founded an organization called Deeds Not Words, which focuses on empowering young women in politics.
Her 2020 match-up against Roy, a conservative backer of President Donald Trump, will be her first election since her 2014 defeat. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee had already targeted Roy’s 21st Congressional District as one of six House seats they hope to flip in 2020, and announced plans to pour resources into Texas, including the opening of an Austin satellite office and the hiring of staffers.
“Texas is the biggest battleground state,” Texas Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa said in a recent statement. “In 2020, we’re going to take out John Cornyn and elect a new wave of Democrats across our state.”
Texas Republicans had been anticipating Davis’ congressional bid after weeks of speculation.
“Wendy Davis cozied up to Nancy Pelosi and D.C. Democrat insiders immediately following her announcement,” Texas Republican Party Chairman James Dickey said in a statement. “I am confident Texans will once again overwhelmingly eject their extremist far left policies on abortion and immigration.”
West, a Dallas attorney who has served in the Texas Senate since 1993, joined the Democratic primary field for the U.S. Senate on Monday that also includes Air Force veteran and former congressional candidate MJ Hegar, Houston City Councilwoman Amanda Edwards and former Houston Congressman Chris Bell, a failed gubernatorial candidate who lost to Rick Perry in 2006.