Texas Democrats are looking to Wendy Davis to lead them out of the political wilderness for the first time in 20 years.
Speaking before a hometown crowd where she received her high school diploma, Davis staked out the middle ground and said she would focus on uniting people to improve public education, economic development and health care to Texas.
"Texans don't want to sit back and watch Austin turn into Washington, D.C.," Davis said. "State leaders in power keep forcing people to opposite corners to prepare for a fight instead of coming together to get things done."
Davis has said that her experience going from being a single teen mother to a successful Harvard-trained attorney informs her political views and her commitment to Texas' middle-class residents.
"Until the families who are burning the candle at both ends can finally make ends meet, we will keep going. Until the amazing health care advances being pioneered in this state reach everyone who needs them, we will keep going," she said in remarks prepared for the announcement before about 1,500 people at the Wiley G. Thomas Coliseum in the blue-collar Fort Worth suburb of Haltom City.
Davis caught the spotlight filibustering the Texas abortion bill back in June, garnering supporters across the state -- hundreds of them were to hear her announcement Thursday.
"I wanted to be here today because I wanted be part of history. I want to say when I am older that I was part of the gubernatorial announcement that changed Texas back to blue," said Pedro Villalobos.
Many who couldn't come are holding watch parties, like this one in Houston.
"Senator Davis is a real fighter, she's a strong campaigner and she's right on the issues. She's compassionate about children, she's a strong advocate for education, she believes women have a right to govern their own bodies and these are the issues that are really going to reflect at the ballot box," said Lane Lewis, Chairman of the Harris Co. Democratic Party.
But for all her popularity running for governor in the Texas, among the reddest of red states, is a huge gamble.
Political scientists like Mark Jones of Rice University say she can't win against a Republican this time.
"I think from Davis' perspective, this is an all or nothing battle. If she does well, she positions herself as the future face of the Texas Democratic party, and perhaps the first Democratic Governor since Ann Richards," said Jones. "If she's defeated badly and loses in a route to Gregg Abbott, her political career could be over."
Davis' personal story -- from a trailer park to Texas Christian University to the Harvard Law School -- has captured the imagination of many of her supporters.
She was a successful attorney when she decided to enter politics by challenging a veteran Republican state senator in Tarrant County in 2008. She narrowly won that race and a tough re-election bid in 2012, when most voters in her district cast ballots for GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
No other Texas Democrats have entered the governor's race. Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott announced his candidacy this summer and is the early favorite to succeed Gov. Rick Perry.
Perry is not seeking re-election after 14 years in office.