HALTOM CITY -- Wendy Davis walked across the stage at Wiley G. Thomas Coliseum more than 30 years ago to accept her diploma from Richland High School.
On Thursday, she returned to that stage to kick off her bid to become Texas 48th governor.
This is a campaign not just for governor but for the very future of our state, the 50-year-old Democratic state senator from Fort Worth said. Thirty-two years ago, I started my own journey in this room.
Today, we start a new journey together, she said. Its a journey that wont end on Election Day, and it wont end in Austin. As long as we can make our great state even greater, we will keep going.
Davis gained national fame and notoriety from a June filibuster geared toward preventing a comprehensive abortion bill from passing. That led Democrats throughout the state to encourage her to try to reclaim the Governors Mansion, which hasnt housed a Democrat since Ann Richards left in 1995.
Davis candidacy pits her against Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott and former Republican Party Chairman Tom Pauken, the two main GOP candidates, who jumped in the race after Gov. Rick Perry announced that he wont seek another term.
Republicans say Davis doesnt have a chance of winning the gubernatorial race. Democrats acknowledge that its an uphill battle.
Once again, Texas Democrats are attempting to conjure support for California-style candidates that try to sell [President] Obamas liberal agenda and go against what makes Texas great, Abbott said in a statement after Davis announcement.
Nonetheless, we welcome Sen. Davis to the race, and look forward to presenting the clear differences and debating the important issues that will preserve the economic miracle in Texas.
Dozens of Republicans dressed in red stood outside the coliseum and carried signs that read, Pro-life, No to Wendy, No to Murder and Ted Cruz 2016.
But inside, the crowd stood and cheered when she walked to the stage after hearing repeated chants of Wendy, Wendy, Wendy.
Its time for a governor who believes that you dont have to buy a place in Texas future, she told the crowd. Its time for a governor who believes that the future of Texas belongs to all of us. Its time for a leader who will put Texans first.
Thats the kind of leader Ive tried to be.
Davis had hoped to reveal her plans sooner, but she delayed any announcement after her father Jerry Russell, founder and director of Fort Worths Stage West ended up in the hospital in critical condition. Russell died Sept. 5 of complications from abdominal surgery.
Tarrant County Commissioner Roy Brooks offered up a prayer for Davis campaign.
We ask you, Lord, to change her pink running shoes into combat boots so she can do battle, he prayed. Make of us a mighty army to surround her and fight for change.
Some Republicans call Davis a one-issue liberal who supports abortion and say they are glad she is in the race.
We believe she will be easily beaten there, said Jennifer Hall, who heads the Tarrant County Republican Party. But this time, we would beat her either way in her Senate district or in the governors race. After the filibuster, people realized how liberal she is.