Wendy Davis, Democrats' newest star, mulls run for Texas governor

en. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, begins a filibuster in an effort to kill an abortion bill, Tuesday, June 25, 2013, in Austin, Texas.
AP Photo/Eric Gay

Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis, a rising star in the Democratic Party, confirmed on Monday that if she doesn't run for re-election, she'll run for governor.

"I can say with absolute certainty I will run for one of two offices: either my state Senate seat, or the governor," Davis said at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. "I'm working very hard to decide what my next steps will be. I do think in Texas people feel like we need a change from the very fractured, very partisan leadership that we're seeing in our statewide leadership right now."

Davis became a national figure in June after staging a 13-hour filibuster of a controversial abortion bill in the state legislature. While she managed to help bring down the legislation in that session, Texas lawmakers reintroduced the bill, and Gov. Rick Perry, R-Texas, signed it into law last month.

Davis managed to turn her turn in the spotlight into a fundraising boon, but the governor's mansion would still be an uphill climb for her: Texas last elected a Democrat to statewide office in 1994. Even though Perry has announced that he won't seek re-election, she could face a tough race against Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, who announced his candidacy last month.

To explain why Democrats haven't won statewide office, Davis said Monday, "First of all, people have to run."

She also pointed to the low voter participation rate in the state, charging that Abbott "has done everything he can, actually, to suppress that as much as possible."

"When you look at voter turnout in Texas, it's abysmally low," Davis said. "I think it can be attributed to the fact that so many people feel disconnected."

She added that Democrats who stand for investing in education and health care are more closely aligned with the values of Texas families, but because of redistricting, the state's political conversations "are taking place at the very far right."

Davis on Monday took a number of digs at Perry, lamenting leaders who "travel as far away as states like California and New York ... while at the same time ignoring the needs of our community colleges," alluding to Perry's campaign to recruit businesses to Texas. "Pretty soon we'll have to travel to other states to import brain power, too," she said.

While she blasted Republican leaders, Davis characterized herself as nonpartisan, stressing multiple times that the district she represents is considered a Republican district. She also pointed to the bipartisan legislative efforts she's made on issues like assisting veterans.

Voters, she said are interested in "build a state that is more 'star' and less 'lone.'"

Democrats have long talked about turning Texas from a red state to a purple state, pointing to its growing Hispanic population. When asked whether former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton could win Texas if she entered the 2016 presidential race, Davis said, "I think Hillary Clinton has a chance to do just about anything she sets her mind to."