Wendy Davis leaves door open to Planned Parenthood gig

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AUSTIN, Texas — Could Wendy Davis, the former Texas state senator who rose to national prominence after her marathon 2013 filibuster protesting an anti-abortion bill, be in the running to next head of Planned Parenthood?

The prominent Democratic surrogate isn’t ruling out the possibility.

The one-time Texas gubernatorial candidate spoke to POLITICO’s Anna Palmer for a live taping of the Women Rule podcast Monday at the South by Southwest festival and sidestepped answering questions about her interest in joining the organization. Planned Parenthood’s current president, Cecile Richards, announced her plans to step down earlier this year. She is slated to leave the organization in May.

Planned Parenthood has set up a committee and is working with a search firm to find her replacement. Davis is one of several Democratic women who are privately being discussed among Democratic and donors as a potential successor to Richards.

In many ways, Davis could be an attractive candidate. She has a national fundraising operation and is skilled at raising large amounts of money online, is a regular on the Democratic political circuit and is a much sought-after surrogate. She recently backed two candidates in Texas who could be the first Latina congresswoman from the state. Davis said she expects to get more involved in races across the country during the 2018 election.

And, she has a long history of working with Planned Parenthood. Davis rose to national fame in 2013 as a Texas state senator when she orchestrated a marathon filibuster, which helped to temporarily block an abortion bill that, among other things, banned abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. The filibuster delayed the bill’s passage, though it eventually did pass.

When asked whether she could see herself running the organization someday, given her active involvement, Davis praised the work of the group. She didn’t directly address whether she was interested in Richards’ position.

Davis currently runs Deeds Not Words, an organization helping empower women to fight for gender equality and seek policy changes.

“Planned Parenthood and the mission of Planned Parenthood — the healthcare provided by Planned Parenthood — is always going to be part of the core of who I am,” she said. “I’m so proud that I’ve had an opportunity to travel all over this country and help Planned Parenthood affiliates to be successful.”

While her comments were sparse on specifics, Davis added: “I’m going to continue to do everything I can to stand for the work that they do and obviously for women’s reproductive freedoms in general.”

She also credited much of her personal and professional success to the group’s services.

“I know — without a doubt — that without Planned Parenthood, without the contraceptive care that I received from them so that I could prevent a second unplanned pregnancy, I know I wouldn’t be here today,” she told Women Rule’s Anna Palmer. Davis, who once had an ectopic pregnancy, had previously said that a procedure performed by Planned Parenthood saved her life.

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