The Brief: Top Texas News for June 27, 2013

State Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, during her filibuster on June 25, 2013.
State Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, during her filibuster on June 25, 2013.

The Big Conversation

The abortion bill whose defeat shook the Texas Capitol this week has been revived.

The day after Democrats brought down the bill in one of the most climactic — and heavily publicized — days of the state Legislature in recent memory, Gov. Rick Perry announced another special session to take up the controversial legislation, which would impose some of the strictest abortion regulations in the country.

Perry also added to the agenda transportation funding and criminal sentencing for juveniles, two other issues that died on Tuesday amid the abortion drama.

"I am calling the Legislature back into session because too much important work remains undone for the people of Texas. Through their duly elected representatives, the citizens of our state have made crystal clear their priorities for our great state," Perry said. "Texans value life and want to protect women and the unborn. Texans want a transportation system that keeps them moving. Texans want a court system that is fair and just. We will not allow the breakdown of decorum and decency to prevent us from doing what the people of this state hired us to do."

Meanwhile, media attention — much of it national — continued to linger on state Sen. Wendy Davis, the Fort Worth Democrat whose 11-hour filibuster on Tuesday helped defeat the bill and turned her into something of a folk hero for Democrats and abortion-rights supporters nationwide.

As The Washington Post's Karen Tumulty and the Tribune's Morgan Smith reported Wednesday, Davis acknowledged that Democrats wouldn't likely be able to block the legislation in another special session.

"Obviously, if he brings that back again and the management in the Capitol on both sides manages time better than they did when we started this past special session, that bill will pass," Davis said.

But inevitably, much of the Davis coverage focused on her political future, which many considered bright even before her filibuster.

Asked in an interview with MSNBC's Chris Hayes whether she would run for governor in 2014, Davis responded, "You know, I would be lying if I told you that I hadn’t had aspirations to run for a statewide office."

And while political observers say any Democrat running for statewide office would still face an uphill battle in 2014, the attention on the Texas abortion debate has sparked real worries from some Republicans about Davis.

"We now have a Wendy Davis problem," Republican political consultant Matt Mackowiak, who has faulted Republican leaders in the Legislature for Tuesday's events, told the Houston Chronicle. "We created an unbelievable opportunity to launch a first-tier Democrat."

Culled

•    Davis: From Fort Worth neighborhood leader to international media sensation (Fort Worth Star-Telegram): "Joel Burns, who succeeded her on the Fort Worth City Council … disclosed that Davis was equipped with a catheter, but nixed an offer of a continuous IV drip. No food or water is permitted during filibusters, and the rules were made even tighter on Tuesday, he claimed, saying she was deprived of the customary hard candy and ice chips. At one point, there were moves to confiscate a stack of letters from women as a 'fire hazard,' but the effort was dropped, said Burns."

•    Supreme Court marriage rulings will have little impact on Texas same-sex couples — for now (The Dallas Morning News): "The Supreme Court’s historic rulings on same-sex marriages prompted jubilation among Dallas gay-rights supporters and urgent condemnation from conservative groups. … For now, though, the decisions will have limited impact on the state’s gay and lesbian couples, political experts say. 'Texas still bars couples from same-sex marriage, and this decision doesn’t change that,' said Cary Franklin, a constitutional law professor at the University of Texas at Austin. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott’s office declined to comment on the effect of the rulings. One Democratic lawmaker, Fort Worth state Rep. Lon Burnam, immediately vowed to reintroduce legislation to legalize same-gender marriages in Texas."

•    Perry signs redistricting maps (Austin American-Statesman): "The special session that ended Tuesday wasn’t a total loss. On Wednesday, Gov. Rick Perry signed all three redistricting bills that lawmakers sent to him. … Capitol gossipers had been whispering that the governor might try to find a way to shove state Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, into a Republican district as punishment for her filibuster that led to the death of a strict abortion measure in the Senate early Wednesday. But by signing off on the redistricting maps, Perry silenced the rumors that he might veto the new state Senate map and seek to put into place the more Republican-friendly maps passed by the Legislature in 2011."

•    Texas carries out its 500th execution since 1982 (The Associated Press): "Texas marked a solemn moment in criminal justice Wednesday evening, executing its 500th inmate since it resumed carrying out capital punishment in 1982. Kimberly McCarthy, who was put to death for the murder of her 71-year-old neighbor, was also the first woman executed in the U.S. in nearly three years."

Quote of the Day: "We would welcome her running statewide and I wish she would." — Texas Republican Party Chairman Steve Munisteri to Politico on Wendy Davis

Must-Read

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