Remarks by Senator Wendy Davis Wiley G. Thomas Coliseum October 3, 2013
These are the prepared remarks.
We’re here today because we care about Texas. We’re here today because we care about Texans. And we’re here today because we believe it’s time to give all Texans a voice in their future and a place in Texas’s future. Every Texan has their own story about what Texas means to them. Our stories are as different and diverse as we are, but they have a common theme: Texas is a place where we aim high and take big risks. From the wildcatters who built the oil and gas industry, to the innovators who make our computer chips smaller, faster, and cheaper, to the ranchers and farmers who provide for our families and our nation, we’re builders and doers, leaders and dreamers.
We love Texas, not only for how good it is but for how great we know it can be. We’re here because we want to see the veterans who risked their lives protecting ours get the support they need when they return to Texas. We’re here because we want to fight for Texas jobs and help Texas companies grow. We’re here because we want every child, no matter where they start in Texas to receive a world-class education to take them anywhere they want to go, so that success and opportunity is within reach of every single Texan and no one in this great state is ever forced to dream smaller instead of bigger. That’s something Texans are willing to fight for. It’s something we’ve fought for together. Just two short years ago failed leaders set out to strip over $5 billion from our already underfunded public schools. But they were wrong. So I took to the Senate floor determined to block the bill the only way I could—by filibustering. This bought enough time for educators and parents to come to the Capitol in a special session during summer break and make their voices heard. And though the cuts weren’t immediately restored, those voices grew and grew until they could no longer be ignored and we were able to undo over $3 billion of that damage—and give the next generation a chance at success. Texas deserves a leader who understands that making education a priority creates good jobs and keeps Texas on top. Texas deserves a leader who will fight this fight for the future of Texas. And for me, that fight is personal. I have my own Texas story. Thirty-two years ago, I received my high school diploma in this very spot. At the time, I had no idea what my future held. I dreamt of a road that could lead to college, but after a while, it looked like life had washed that road out. By the time I was nineteen, I was already on my way to divorce, living in a tiny trailer with my daughter, Amber. I was barely making ends meet. And sometimes, they didn’t. It wasn’t uncommon for me to come home to my power shut off or my phone disconnected. A lot of people in our state today can tell similar stories. It wasn’t the life I’d imagined. And it definitely wasn’t what I wanted for Amber. When I listened to my heart, I knew that things had to change. Then one day, one of my coworkers left a brochure on my desk for Tarrant County Community College. I’d thought that my educational journey had come to an end. But that day, I discovered college was in my reach. As I read about the classes they offered before and after work—classes that I could afford — because the Texas I came up in helped make it possible. I realized that I’d found the path I was looking for, a path to a better life for me and for my young family. It wasn’t going to be easy – I’d keep working at a doctor’s office, keep waiting tables at night – but in my Texas it was possible. With a heart full of love for Amber, I took my first steps toward a better life for us. That was the beginning of the journey that has brought me back here with you today.
I’m not sharing my story because it’s unique or special. I’m sharing it precisely because it isn’t. My whole life, I’ve seen Texans create better tomorrows for themselves and their families. But I worry that the journey I made is a lot harder and steeper for young Texans today. College is more expensive, the choices for working families are fewer, and far too many young people yearning to continue their own educational journeys are turned down for grants and loans because state leaders have turned a deaf ear to them and blocked their paths. That’s not what Texas is about. We all know that — because we know that Texas is more than a state. Texas has always been a promise. The promise that where you start has nothing to do with how far you can go. In Austin today, our current leadership thinks promises are just something you make to the people who write big checks. But the promise I’m talking about is bigger than that. It’s the promise of a better tomorrow for everyone. Texas deserves a leader who will protect this promise. Texas deserves a leader who will keep it. Thirty-two years ago, I walked across this stage, the granddaughter of farmers from Muleshoe, Texas who could only afford to rent the land they farmed. I had no real idea what the future looked like. Today, I see it pretty clearly. It’s looking right at me. It’s you. It’s all of you. And all of you deserve to have your voices heard. Because our future is brightest when it’s lit by everyone’s star. And that’s why, today, I’m proud to announce my candidacy to be the 48th governor of the great state of Texas. We’re all here because we love Texas — not just how good it is, but because we know how great it can be. We’re Texans, and we believe that good is never good enough. Texans don’t want to sit back and watch Austin turn into Washington, D.C. State leaders in power keep forcing people to opposite corners to prepare for a fight instead of coming together to get things done. For too many Texans, that just doesn’t work. It’s not the honest, accountable leadership that Texans deserve. Texans deserve better than failed leaders who dole out favors to friends and cronies behind closed doors. Texas has waited too long for a governor who knows that quid pro quo shouldn’t be the status quo. It’s time for a governor who believes that you don’t have to buy a place in Texas’ future. It’s time for a governor who believes that the future of Texas belongs to all of us. It’s time for a leader who will put Texans first. That’s the kind of leader I’ve tried to be. I got my start on the Fort Worth City Council. I didn’t have a partisan affiliation by my name, and I didn’t govern with one either. When I meet folks who want the same thing but disagree about how to get there, I invite them to sit down at the table and hash out a solution working together with respect and an open mind. Real leaders know that our problems deserve real solutions. That’s the approach I brought to Austin. And that’s what I’ll do as your next governor. If you want a governor who will speak for everyone, then every Texan needs to be part of getting that governor elected.
It’s quite simple really, the Texas we need —needs you. I need you. I’m asking for your support. I’m asking for your help. I’m asking for your prayers. In the months ahead, I’ll be asking for your vote. But mostly I’m asking you to dream of all that we can accomplish together. I’m asking you to believe that the best of Texas is yet to come. This is a campaign not just for governor, but for the very future of our state. Thirty two years ago, right here in this room, I started my own journey. Today, we start a new journey – together. It’s a journey that won’t end on Election Day and it won’t end in Austin. As long as we can make our great state even greater, we will keep going. Until the families who are burning the candle at both end can finally make ends meet, we will keep going. Until the amazing health care advances being pioneered in this state reach everyone who needs them, we will keep going. Until every child from Longview to Lubbock to McAllen to Mesquite makes it to a stage like this, and gets their diploma, and knows that nothing will wash out the road to their future dreams, we will keep going. Until the corridors of power are the corridors of the people, until problem-solving trumps partisanship, until our state is “a lot less lone and a lot more star,” we will keep going. As long as we can make this great state even greater, we will keep going. Because with the right kind of leadership, the great state of Texas will keep its sacred promise that where you start has nothing to do with how far you can go.
God bless you all. God bless Texas.