AUSTIN, Texas — A Fort Worth Democrat, Sen. Wendy Davis, 50, stood in her running shoes on the green carpeted floor of the Senate chamber Tuesday and spoke about a bill with some of the toughest abortion restrictions in the country from 11:18 a.m. until about 10 p.m. She abided for most of that time by filibuster rules that prohibited her from leaning on her desk, sitting on her chair or straying off topic.
Her feat of stamina and conviction — designed by Democrats to block passage of a bill supported by some of the state's top Republicans — made her an instant celebrity across the country, a hero to some, a villain to others.
Davis gained thousands of Twitter followers in a matter of hours. Close-up pictures of her pink sneakers zoomed across computer and television screens.
"I'm tired, but really happy," Davis told reporters in the Senate chamber at 3:20 a.m. Wednesday as she finally made her way out of the building.
Hours after claiming that they had successfully passed the bill, Republican lawmakers reversed course Wednesday and said that a disputed late-night vote on the bill did not follow legislative procedures, rendering the vote moot.
Davis, herself, has known long odds, and, for Democrats, was the perfect symbol in a fight over women's rights of what a woman can do. She was a teenager when her first daughter was born but managed to pull herself from a trailer park to Harvard Law School to a hard-fought seat in the Texas Senate.