When Wendy Davis finally left the senate floor after trying to block a restrictive anti-abortion bill inside the Texas legislature in 2013, a concerned colleague handed the former state senator her first meal since her thirteen-hour-long filibuster began. UTSA students laughed when Davis recalled her first meal following her now-famous filibuster — a cup of yogurt — in an answer to a question from Stephanie Gonzalez, a sophomore digital communications major, in the Retama on Feb. 13. Davis’ response was part of a discussion with UTSA students about Davis’ experience as a progressive woman in Texas politics.
The former Texas state senator and current challenger for Texas’ 21st congressional district came to UTSA to speak to students about her experience as a progressive female politician in Texas. The event was hosted by UTSA’s chapter of IGNITE, a nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering young women to engage in politics.
Davis began the event by speaking to UTSA’s first-generation students.
“I am still the only person in my family who had the privilege of going to college,” Davis said. “Ahead of every valley is a hill … Take pride in the fact that you are doing something hard, and keep your dream in front of you.”
Davis emphasized the importance of Generation Z and millennial voters, who are an increasingly politically active and influential group of voters.
“You’ve probably seen that hashtag on social media, ‘Okay Boomer.’ I thought it was so appropriate because my generation is guilty of saying, ‘Where are the millennials? Where are the young people? Why aren’t they participating?’ Then rightly so back at us, ‘Look at what you’ve done to the world we have to inherit. What have you done to us, boomer?’”
Davis cited issues facing college students, including the increased price of higher education and current burdens of student debt.
“We’ve saddled you all with a completely different experience from the ones we had. Reclaim it. Reclaim the conversation. Use your power to vote.”
Davis offered advice for young women who want to involve themselves in politics.
“There’s nothing like getting involved in a campaign,” she said. “It’s a really great way to learn how someone goes about running for office.”
In a question about her political role models, Davis said she admired Hillary Clinton’s handling of her various political defeats. Davis said she respected Clinton’s willingness to join Barack Obama’s administration after her defeat in the 2008 Democratic nomination for president.
Similar to Clinton’s 2016 presidential race, Davis lost to a Republican, Greg Abbott, for an executive office in the 2014 gubernatorial election for Texas governor.
“Hopefully I’m showing that example to some young women that that’s what we do: if we get knocked down, we get back up; we keep on fighting.”
Davis was asked about her strategy to appeal to the female voters in Texas who voted for Republicans in 2018, specifically the 46% of female voters who voted to reelect Senator Ted Cruz, according to CNN exit polls.
“As a grandmother and as a mother, I understand where a lot of women’s hearts and heads are. We’re thinking about the future we are leaving for our kids. We’re thinking about making sure they go to good schools. We’re thinking about making sure that they can afford to go to college or trade school, or that they are going to have clean air and water, or when they go to school they don’t have to hide from an active shooter — those are the places where we can connect with each other as moms, and that’s where partisanship falls aside.”