AUSTIN, Texas — Sen. Wendy Davis, the Democrat who filibustered an abortion law for nearly 13 hours wearing pink running shoes, began the slow rollout of her campaign for Texas governor on Wednesday with an email asking supporters to spread the word and donate money ahead of a "what's next" announcement.
The Fort Worth Democrat stopped short of revealing her decision, saying she would make a formal announcement about her decision on Oct. 3. But the well-trodden tactic of announcing an announcement clearly signals a campaign far larger than a re-election bid to her state Senate seat. The slow roll out has become a hallmark of modern campaigns.
No other Democrat has expressed interest in running for governor in Texas, where a Democrat hasn't won a statewide office in 20 years. Experts say Davis would need to raise $40 million to mount a serious campaign. The leading Republican candidate, Attorney General Greg Abbott, has raised more than $20 million.
Jason Stanford, a Democratic consultant who has worked on past Texas gubernatorial campaigns, said Davis is building her email list, which is critical for organizing volunteers and raising money statewide.
"This is what you would do before you run for governor, this is not what you would do to run for re-election," he said.
Davis' progressive politics and charisma on the campaign trail have long made her popular among Texas Democrats. But her daylong speech defending women's right to an abortion won her fame across the country and added to her donor list. She has attended fundraisers in New York, Washington and San Francisco.
For months, Democrats have urged Davis to run after her filibuster in June against new abortion restrictions. She was initially successful, forcing Republican Gov. Rick Perry to call a second special session to reconsider the legislation. The Republican-controlled Legislature easily passed the measures.
Battleground Texas, a Democratic group seeking to boost voter turnout among women and minorities, emailed supporters highlighting Davis' email on Wednesday. The group asked for volunteers to organize Davis watch-parties on Oct. 3.
"This is a pivotal moment for Texas, we need to start organizing right away so we can build up the grassroots operation Wendy will need if she decides to run for governor," wrote Jenn Brown, the group's executive director.
In email message, Davis asked supporters to post her plans on social media sites, encourage others to join her email list.
"I truly appreciate all the work that you – my grassroots team – have done for me thus far. And I'm excited about what we can do together in the future," the email says. Those who sign up are immediately urged to donate to her campaign.
Davis originally promised to announce her intentions by Labor Day, but her father became ill following complications from abdominal surgery. He died Sept. 5, and Davis has spent the last two weeks with her family.
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