Wendy Davis didn’t try to mask her accent, but she also wanted to show the crowd gathered in Minnetonka on Sunday that she knew the lingo of the North.
“This is actually my second visit to Minnesota, doncha know,” said Davis, a former state senator from Texas, channeling Minnesota as best she could.
She traveled to the Twin Cities suburbs to mark nearly 100-days until Election Day and rally voters to get out and support Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. In a parking lot decorated with campaign signs, Davis drew a crowd of more than 50 volunteers and activists, eager to hear from the former Texas legislator who became famous three years ago, after she staged an 11-hour filibuster over abortion restrictions being considered in the Texas statehouse.
Not surprisingly, the crowd gathered was mostly women, including two legislative candidates running in close suburban swing districts this fall.
Suburban women are an important voting bloc in any election, but they could be extra critical for Democrats this year. National polls repeatedly show a dearth of support among women for Republican nominee Donald Trump, who — among other comments — has said there should be some kind of “punishment” for women who want to have abortions.
That’s not lost on Davis and other Clinton surrogates, traveling to places like Minnetonka to drum up excitement among affluent Democratic women and independent voters. “We are all here in the final 15 minutes and we are giving everything we have,” Davis said. “Because we know what’s at stake.”
Support from women voters isn’t just crucial to Clinton, though. It will also be critically important for suburban DFL legislative candidates who appear down the ballot. With no statewide races on the ballot in Minnesota this fall, all 201 Minnesota legislative candidates are relying on excitement over the presidential race to trickle down to their races.
Laurie Pryor, who’s making her first run for the state House this fall in the competitive district 48A, said a schoolteacher told her once that she would be the first women president. “She was close, I’m only four slots down,” Pryor told the crowd. “She was right about how long it would take.”
“[Voters] believe in science, they want bipartisanship,” said Deb Calvert, who is running to replace retiring DFL Sen. Terri Bonoff in the Minnetonka and Plymouth-area Senate District 44. “They do believe that women should be able to make their own decisions on reproductive health.”
Most of the speakers at the event, including Davis, only made passing references to Trump, instead focusing their message on Clinton and what she’d do for women in the district.
In the Eden Prairie and Minnetonka-area Senate District 48, where Davis was campaigning, Trump earned only 369 of the more than 2,000 votes cast in the March 1 Republican precinct caucuses. By contrast, first-place finisher Marco Rubio pulled in 1,087 votes.
Among Democrats, Hillary Clinton earned 1,421 votes in the district, polling only slightly behind Bernie Sanders. After the event, Davis noted that President Barack Obama won with unprecedented support among women voters. Clinton, she expects, will only do better with women voters this fall.
“I’m become convinced,” Davis said. “The outcome of this election hinges on women.”