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Wendy Davis set to announce run for Texas governor at pep-style rally

After weeks of buildup, Democrat Wendy Davis is set to launch an uphill bid for Texas governor Thursday with a pep-style rally outside Fort Worth.

Davis, 50, a two-term state senator, has built a national following via social media. She sent a Twitter message on Wednesday inviting supporters to her announcement and urging them to “wear comfortable shoes and the colors of the Texas flag (red, white and blue).”

Davis became a national political celebrity in June after leading a filibuster that temporarily blocked passage of strict anti-abortion legislation. She had been talked about for years as a possible candidate for governor, as Democrats struggle to snap a long losing streak in state elections. Her overnight fame catapulted Davis to the party’s fore and helped her collect $1 million in contributions in just a few weeks.

But she will need to raise much more to compete with the frontrunner, Republican state Atty. Gen. Greg Abbott, who is a heavy favorite and already has banked more than $23 million. The two are running to succeed Republican Rick Perry, the longest-serving governor in Texas history, who is stepping aside as he eyes another run for president in 2016.

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Davis’ announcement was scheduled for Thursday afternoon at a rally at the Haltom City arena where she received her high school diploma. Part of Davis' political appeal has been her compelling personal story. A struggling single mother who lived for a time in a trailer park, she went on to earn a Harvard law degree before twice winning election in a highly competitive Fort Worth-area district.

Still, she begins the governor’s race as a considerable underdog. Democrats have lost more than 100 straight statewide elections in Texas and have not elected a governor since 1990.

“She’s running under the banner of a party that starts off with, at a minimum, a 10-point disadvantage in statewide races,” said James Henson, who directs the Texas Politics project at the University of Texas in Austin. Davis will not only have to run a near-flawless campaign to win, he said; she needs some luck, too.

“There is no silver bullet,” Henson said. “A lot of things have to happen.”

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Twitter: @markzbarabak

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