The political theater that played out in the Texas Senate chamber
Tuesday and into the wee hours Wednesday attracted an entirely new audience to
the state Legislature. When Sen. Wendy Davis' filibuster of Senate Bill 5,
limiting abortions in Texas, began around 11 a.m. Tuesday, there were a few
thousand viewers on The Texas Tribune's live stream.
During the climax of the tense marathon, nearly 200,000 were tuned in, including celebrities, and Twitter was ablaze with the #SB5 hashtag (Senate Bill 5). Observers around the world, many of whom didn't know that Texas is in the Central time zone, were wondering about the ins and outs of Austin politics, and just who was that woman in the white pantsuit Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst keeps whispering to in between "points of order."
As the dust settles from the drama in Austin last night, we offer a few more details about the power players who kept you up late.
Wendy Davis, the woman in white
Before Tuesday, she was a little-known state senator from Fort Worth with a compelling political narrative -- a single mother at 19, Davis graduated from Tarrant County College, then finished top of her class at TCU and went to Harvard Law. She was a Fort Worth councilwoman for nine years before being elected to the Texas Senate in 2008 in one of the most conservative districts in the country. Since joining the Senate, she has been a thorn in the side of Republicans, most notably staging a filibuster in 2011 to delay $5 billion in education cuts.
So the Senate floor battle Tuesday wasn't Davis' first rodeo, which may be why she showed up in pink Mizuno running shoes ($116) that are no doubt flying off shelves today. Before the filibuster, Davis had a measly 1,200 followers on Twitter; now she has more than 80,000 and her own hashtag #StandWithWendy. She also earned the attention of celebrities (Lena Dunham, Julianne Moore, Michael Moore and the Fonz Henry Winkler, to name a few Tweeters) and political heavyweights. President Barack Obama's offiicial Twitter feed read at 8:40 p.m. Tuesday night, "Something special is happening in Austin tonight: # StandWithWendy.
Gov. Rick Perry has called Davis the Democrats' "show horse," but some political analysts were calling her a "rock star" Wednesday. Some of her supporters were even suggesting she could be the next governor of Texas, though most admit it's a long shot that a Democrat can win a statewide election in the Lone Star State -- at least for now for now. Republican U.S. Sen. John Cornyn's seat is also up for election.
Karina Davis, the other woman in white
Anyone who watched The Texas Tribune's live feed on YouTube noticed her standing beside Dewhurst, whose position as lieutenant governor makes him president of the Senate, throughout the proceedings, arms folded, lips pursed. The Senate's parliamentarian, and a employee of Dewhurst's office, "the other Davis" had the unenviably task of trying to interpret all the rules jousting in the waning hours of Tuesday's filibuster. As points of parliamentary inquiry flew, Dewhurst and later Sen. Robert Duncan would lean toward Davis and confer with her often for long periods before making a ruling. There's not much personal information available on Davis, as you might expect, but one thing is certain, as Jim Roberts of Reuters tweeted Tuesday evening: Karina Davis is currently the most
Most Popular Stories
- Dell Offers Undisclosed Number of Employee Buyouts
- Saab Gets Back into the Game; U.S. Auto Sales Soar
- Authorities Close to Deal with JPMorgan Chase over Madoff Response
- Apple Activates Customer-Tracking iBeacon
- 2013 Tech Gift Guide: iPad Mini Still Hot; Chromecast a Great Low-Cost Option
- U.S. Stocks Rise on Sysco Acquisition
- A Biography of Jonathan Ive, Apple's Creative Chief
- American Airlines, US Airways Complete Merger
- Unemployed Wait as Lawmakers Debate
- Tech Giants Call for Controls on Government Snooping