5:24: Crowd slowly filing out while “Brave” by Sara Bareilles plays. Lots of people still hanging out to wave signs for the cameras. Could have been “Won’t Back Down,” so I’ll take it.
As far as turnout goes, by the end of the event, the seats were probably about 80 percent full. Not a sell-out crowd, but between the seated and standing areas, still a sizeable turnout. (And now, of course, it is “Won’t Back Down,” because what campaign would be complete without it?) If any of the protestors outside of the coliseum did decide to go inside, none of them made an outburst.
So, with a 15-minute speech, Senator Davis announces her intent to become Governor Davis. She didn’t mention women’s health or abortion once, which is to be expected—everybody knows where she stands on those things, and her campaign will hinge on having something else to say that resonates with people. Recalling her 2011 filibuster on education was a nice way to nod to the event that made her a star, while also reminding people that she’s been passionate about more than abortion for a while.
5:16: Leading the crowd in a series of lines that end with a chant of “We will keep going,” which people seem happy to get in on. A good line about Texas being “a little less lone, and a little more star.” And with that, she’s done.
5:13: Time to amend the August cover of the magazine…
5:11: And it’s officially official: “I’m proud to announce my candidacy to be the 48th Governor of the State of Texas!” Crowd erupts at that, and at every subsequent line for the next couple minutes. “Good is never good enough”? Huge cheers. “Texans do not want to sit back and watch Austin turned into Washington DC”? Another one. This is an enthusiastic crowd.
5:08: Telling her life story now. The broad strokes—divorced single mom, struggling to make ends meet, Tarrant County Community College. Huge cheer from the crowd at “Tarrant County Community College.” Most be a lot of locals here. “I’m not sharing that story because it’s unique or special. I’m sharing it because it’s not.” Education and opportunity look to be the themes of the Wendy Davis for Governor campaign.
5:02: And she’s here! Lots of enthusiasm here. Speaking about Texas in general terms now—home of ranchers and computer chip manufacturers. Opens by talking about her filibuster—but the education filibuster from a couple years ago, not the more famous filibuster of the abortion bill this summer. “Texas deserves a leader who understands that making education a priority creates good jobs for Texans.”
4:59: A Fort Worth businessman named Alex Jimenez is speaking now about Texas, Texans, his family, and how he’s a good judge of character: “And I’m honored to introduce Senator Wendy Davis.”
4:54: Six minutes, Senator Davis, you’re on—she’ll be addressing the crowd at 5:00, now that she’s emailed supporters and tweeted the news, making things official. Kind of weird to make the announcement online before the speech, but there’s a party atmosphere in the auditorium (they’re chanting “Wendy! Wendy!”), so nobody here seems to mind.
4:51: And they’ve got the sign up, too.
Still no candidate, though. Stevie Wonder dance party out on the floor. If you’re watching the Texas Tribune livestream, you are probably bored! People on the ground, all of whom just produced “Wendy Davis For Governor” placards while my head was turned, are having a pretty good time.
4:44: While the Wendy Davis band jams out “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You),” the Davis media team has already sent out a press release announcing her candidacy. Whoops! So just in case you were wondering if she’d be announcing that she’d taken up fly-fishing, fret not: It’s official, even if she hasn’t said so herself yet.
4:37: Commissioner Brooks asked that the lord transform Senator Davis’ “pink running shoes into combat boots.” Looks like she’s still planning to get more mileage out of those sneakers. Also, Brooks talked about the need for a “savior,” which is an uncomfortable thing to say when talking about a politician! But he also said that we need an “anchor,” and that the lord is the savior, while Davis is the anchor. Parse it yourself, but it didn’t seem like he was actually describing Wendy Davis as a savior. Plenty of others are likely to, though.
4:35: We just pledged allegiance. Tarrant County Commissioner Roy Brooks is offering a prayer now. Things are underway.
4:13: Seats are probably a little over half-full now (or a little under half-empty, if you’re a pessimist). In the meantime, here are a couple guys having a good time in their homemade “Governor Barbie” t-shirts, via Jessica Luther’s twitter feed.
3:49: A spontaneous chant of “We Want Wendy!” from the crowd—which currently has the auditorium’s seats about 1/3 full—is drowned out by the band, who launch into “I Gotta Feeling” by the Black Eyed Peas. Current crowd estimate is about 400 people in the seats, plus another 100 or so standing near the front of the stage. Doors have been open since three o’clock.
3:45: Still nothing much happening, which is to be expected for an event that doesn’t even start for 45 minutes (which probably means a little over an hour), but if you’re not here, that means you’re not listening to the cover band that’s currently tearing through a rendition of Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines.”
3:35: While we wait for the room to fill up and for things to start, let’s check in with one of the neighbors whose house is on the way to the auditorium at which Senator Davis will be making her announcement:
So there’s that. He’s not the only person in Haltom City who’s not a huge fan of Davis’, either—outside of the building, on the sidewalk, there was a pretty strong contingent (at least a couple dozen, all told) standing with signs ranging from “baby killer” sentiments to placards from John Cornyn’s “Keep It Red” campaign. Unlike the color-coded events at the Capitol over the summer, where supporters of the H.B. 2 bill that Senator Davis filibustered wore blue shirts, and its opponents dressed in orange, most people here are wearing the same colors: lots of red, whether to “keep it red” or to honor Davis’ request that people dress in red, white, and blue.
Not that the sartorial situation is particularly compelling, except that it means that it’s hard to be certain that everyone in the building is here to support Senator Davis’ announcement.
3:20: State Senator Wendy Davis’ worst-kept secret—that, shh, she’s going to run for Governor—becomes official today at the Wiley G. Thomas Coliseum in Haltom City. That’s the same site at which she received her high school diploma, and it’s currently full of seats that are quickly filling up with supporters—and, perhaps, protesters—dressed in red, white, and blue at the campaign’s behest. We’ll keep tabs on the event as the Senator, who became the Texas Democratic Party’s biggest political celebrity since Ann Richards after her summer filibuster, makes official something that has seemed pretty clear since the end of June.
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