Wendy Davis kicks fundraising into top gear

State senator from Texas raising profile, big money in D.C. as she mulls gubernatorial bid

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State Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Ft. Worth, was back in Washington, D.C., today less than two weeks after she swung through the nation’s capital for a heavy fundraising push — and confirmed she may run for Texas governor.

This time around, Davis, who rose to political stardom in late June following her 11th-hour filibuster against a Texas anti-abortion bill, spoke this afternoon about her political prospects in front of more than 100 people at a National Press Club luncheon.

If Davis opts to run for governor, she will have a tall task ahead of her in a deeply red state where leading Republican politicians are flush with cash.

But in her speech today, she noted she’s won elections in areas that are not thought of as traditional liberal mainstays.

“The district I represent wasn’t drawn for a Democrat, but the people I represent are a lot more interested in seeing problems solved than they are in partisan labels,” Davis said.

National Democrats are, however, are lining up behind her, lending extra wattage to her already-rising star.

On July 25 trip to Washington, D.C., for example, Davis’ state senate campaign conducted two fundraisers, which attracted major national Democratic figures.

Headlining Davis’ first event: Sens. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn.; Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.; Al Franken, D-Minn.; Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.; Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii; Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.; Patty Murray, D-Wash.; and Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H. The cost to attend was $500.

Ticket prices for her second fundraiser that day ranged between $25 and $250.

Davis also reportedly said she met with officials from EMILY’s List, a group that help recruits Democratic women to run for office, during her July D.C. trip.

The meeting apparently bore fruit, as on Sunday, EMILY’s List published a blog item entitled “Beyond the Filibuster: 10 Things You Should Know About Wendy Davis,” which argues why Davis was a “rising star” long before this year.

Davis raised more than $933,000 in the final two weeks of June, a recent Texas Ethics Commission report shows.

About one-third of that money came from outside the state, according to the Texas Tribune

Her total haul, while impressive for a state senator, stills pales in comparison to her likely GOP opponent’s should she choose to run for governor.

Current Texas Lt. Gov. Greg Abbot — the favorite to take over for Gov. Rick Perry, who is not seeking re-election — brought in nearly $4.8 million during the same period and had nearly $21 million on hand at the end of June.

Davis and Abbott were only able to raise campaign money this year from June 17 to June30 because state law prohibits officeholders from fundraising during a regular legislative session and the 20 days immediately following one.  

Davis is best known for her stance on Texas’ abortion bill, which Perry ultimately signed into law, but she spent the majority of her speech addressing issues such as poverty and education, attempting to paint herself as above partisanship.

“For all the rhetoric about big government or small government, I think the majority of Texans just want to see good government,” Davis said.

Davis ruled out a bid for lieutenant governor, but said she will either run for re-election in her state senate district or for governor in 2014.

Matt Angle, a senior strategist for the Davis campaign, said he expects Davis to make a decision on her political future by Labor Day. 

Angle said Davis did not have any fundraisers or other events planned today, as she had to fly back to Texas immediately after the luncheon.