Wendy Davis formally jumps into Texas governor's race

SMU Political Science Professor Matthew Wilson talks about Wendy Davis running for Texas governor and the state's demographics.

By Catalina Camia

Democrat Wendy Davis has star power and a growing following from San Francisco to New York City. But can she translate the fame she achieved from her epic filibuster of a bill restricting abortion into a successful race for Texas governor?

That's the unknown as Davis begins her quest to succeed Rick Perry, governor of Texas for nearly 13 years and the Republican who helped make the state one of the reddest in the nation. She announced her candidacy Thursday at her suburban Fort Worth high school by denouncing a political culture in Austin that she says caters to special interests instead of the middle class. . .

Democrats in Texas have long believed the changing demographics of the state are in their favor, even though the GOP holds every statewide office. The governor's race will be one of the first tests of whether more Hispanics, who make up nearly 40% of the state's population, will register to vote and go to the polls.

In the 2012 presidential election, 1.4 million more Hispanic voters cast ballots than in 2008, according to U.S. Census Bureau figures, while the number of non-Hispanic white voters shrank by more than 2 million.

"For a Democrat to win in Texas in 2014, there would have to be an unprecedented mobilization and enthusiasm among Latino voters," said Matthew Wilson, a political scientist at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. "An Anglo woman best known as an abortion champion doesn't seem well positioned to achieve that."

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