FORT WORTH — Wendy Davis took the second day of her gubernatorial campaign to a hometown crowd.Before beginning her travels across the state, where she will try to convince Texans that she is the person they need to elect as the state’s 48th governor, the Democratic state senator from Fort Worth spoke to the Rotary Club of Fort Worth about her days on the City Council and in the Senate.She touted how the community worked together to make progress on economic development and transportation needs locally and said she hopes that type of progress — as well as efforts to improve public education — can take place statewide.“We have a great story to tell in Fort Worth,” she told a crowd of about 200 business and community leaders gathered at the Fort Worth Club. “It has truly been an honor and privilege to be of service to this community.”But now she hopes to take that service statewide in an unlikely, against-the-odds battle to claim the governor’s mansion in a deeply Republican state that hasn’t seen a Democratic governor since Ann Richards left office in 1995.“This campaign is really not about me,” she said. “This campaign is about the future of Texas.”Davis announced Thursday in Haltom City that she was entering the 2014 governor’s race, a candidacy that pits her against Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott and former Republican Party Chairman Tom Pauken, the two main GOP candidates. Gov. Rick Perry said this year that he wasn’t seeking another term.She is expected to begin traveling around the state to talk to voters as soon as today. She didn’t mention her Republican opponents during her speech, but she did bring up the merger between American Airlines and US Airways and how “this idea has been pretty popular among Austin politicians of late, as of the last few days.”Abbott at one point wanted to block the merger, but earlier this week said he supports it.“It’s something I’ve been incredibly supportive if from the very moment we talked about the opportunity to save American Airlines,” she said. Gearing upRepublicans are already ramping up efforts to keep Texas red.The Republican Party of Texas has released a web video and website — TheRealWendy.com — “to educate Texans about Wendy Davis’ record and her support for a liberal agenda that is wrong for Texas.”“Wendy Davis has a lengthy record of opposing Texans on the issues, standing against the 2nd Amendment, as well as voter ID, and supporting higher taxes and spending,” said Beth Cubriel, executive director of the state Republican party. “Texans will have a chance to learn the real story of Wendy and about her out-of-touch politics more suited for California.”And news reports show that Texas Right to Life plans to run radio ads in South Texas describing Davis as an “abortion zealot.”Democrats meanwhile are working to boost fundraising and grassroots support throughout the state to back Davis.Battleground Texas, a group of former Obama campaign workers working to help Democrats in this state, has been reaching out to potential donors and volunteers.“Battleground Texas is mobilizing across the state in support of Wendy Davis,” their website reads. “Let’s make sure we have the resources to run the grassroots campaign she needs to become the next governor of Texas.”Senate raceDavis’ announcement is expected to spur a number of candidates to run for the Senate District 10 post that she has represented since 2008.Four Republicans had already announced that they were in the race — Konni Burton, former state Rep. Mark Shelton, Mark Skinner and Tony Pompa. Now a handful of Democrats, including Fort Worth Councilman Joel Burns and former Councilwoman Kathleen Hicks, are seen as potential candidates as well.Burns said Friday that he hopes to announce in about two weeks whether or not he’s in the race. “I’m taking a very serious evaluation to see whether this is the right thing for me and my family at this time,” he said.Also on Friday, Burton announced that Tarrant County Commissioner Gary Fickes endorsed her in the Senate race. “Konni Burton is working day in and day out to win back SD 10 for the people of Tarrant County,” Fickes said. “I’m excited by her energy, and know her conservative principles are exactly what we need to send to Austin.”And Shelton on Friday announced that he is in this race to stay.“I am running to bring experienced, conservative leadership to the people of Tarrant County,” he said in a statement. “Families in Tarrant County deserve a true conservative representing them in Austin — someone with a proven track record of getting results.”The month long filing period for next year’s primary begins Nov. 9.
Anna Tinsley, 817-390-7610 Twitter: @annatinsley