Amid rumors of a run for Lieutenant Governor, Senator Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, spoke Tuesday, Oct. 22, in San Antonio at an event hosted by the Texas Observer about the night of the Wendy Davis filibuster.
Van de Putte represents UTSA in the Texas Senate and said in an interview with Editor-in-Chief of the Texas Tribune Evan Smith that she is seriously considering a state-wide campaign.
After working for many years as a pharmacist, Van de Putte began her political career in 1990 when she was elected into the Texas House of Representatives, a seat she held until her election into the Texas Senate in 1999. Van de Putte is well known for her support of pro-choice legislation in the Texas Senate but was absent from the floor of the Texas Senate as Wendy Davis went into her tenth hour of filibustering SB5.
The memory of her recently deceased father prompted her decision to attend the filibuster. Earlier in May, she was made governor for a day where her father alone, she claimed, supported her. “He stood up and was clapping and blowing kisses at me,” she recalled. “That visual of him in the capitol, and everybody looking at him, and him standing up for me just jarred me into thinking, Wendy’s standing up for me.”
Late into the night, Senator Van de Putte’s chief of staff reported to her that a second point of order had been made against Senator Davis. “She couldn’t touch her desk; there was no sip of water. She had to stay perfectly on topic,” Van de Putte told the crowd.
The Senator further explained that Republicans were watching Senator Davis in 30-minute segments. Their objective was to look for any possible opportunity to call a point of order, knowing it would take three to end the filibuster.
“When I went in (to the Senate) I just had no energy, nothing, I was at the bottom of my well,” Van de Putte admitted.
She instead went to the Member’s Lounge where she was greeted by the other women of the House: Symphonia Thompson, Jessica Farrar, Ana Perez, Donna Howard and Ruth Jones McClendon.
The Senator explained that they were able to give her a little strength by saying how happy they were to see her at the capitol.
She stayed on the side of the floor explaining, “Wendy saw me, but I thought if I went over to her she would want to hug me and that would have been it. That would have been a point of order.”
Although she was on the floor, Van de Putte admitted that she was not able to focus on the proceedings until Republican Senator Donna Campbell called a third point of order because Senator Davis had said “sonogram.”
“When I heard that I turned around and I went ‘Aw hell no!’ and I walked to the dais because I thought ‘this is ridiculous,’ ” said Van de Putte.
“I think it was more anger, I wish I could tell you it was somewhat divine, or that I had this great epiphany. But I was angry.”
Van de Putte further explained that in response to the end of the filibuster, the Democratic Senators began filing every parliamentary procedure they knew of, knowing that they still had two hours before the expiration of the bill. Then, with a slight grin, she said “thirty minutes before the strike of midnight, I think the folks in charge got really desperate because they realized we were very effectively challenging the bill with parliamentary procedure.”
She recanted further, explaining, “by a quarter till they had figured out that every time I was recognized I would draw that clock out. And so my mic was turned off.”
“I knew that the presiding officer heard me,” said Van de Putte angrily. “The press heard me, and I know the gallery heard me, I mean I was jumping up and down.” According to the Senator, it was only after she began screaming that she was recognized.
“At what point must a female Senator raise her hand or her voice to be heard over their male colleagues in the room?” Van de Putte asked the Senate.
Approaching the end of her story, Senator Van de Putte discussed how, at the time of the filibuster, most Senators were unaware of the social media following the event.
“What happened,” she explained, “was that people all over this country, particularly women and the men that love women, were watching in astonishment. Mark your calendar. June 25, 2013. It was the turning point. Women had just had enough.”