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Texas filibuster captures nation's attention all day and all night

June 26, 2013|By Devin Kelly

Shouts and chants filled the chamber of a special session of the Texas Senate as the clock neared midnight. For 13 hours a Democratic senator from Fort Worth -- Wendy Davis -- had held sway over the legislative session in a filibuster designed to block a controversial anti-abortion bill. 

At about 11:45 p.m., the Republican majority was trying to force a vote before the deadline passed. The only thing stopping them was the gallery, packed with opponents who began chanting so loudly and so persistently that taking a vote was difficult at best.

Midnight passed and the Senate had not adjourned. At first, several Senate staffers said the legislation passed in a 17-12 vote, reflected on the Senate website.

An hour later, Republican Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst conceded the vote came too late, and Davis’ grassroots filibuster had succeeded.

The filibuster riveted national attention. More than 100,000 people were watching the Texas Tribune’s live-stream of the session, and the hashtag #standwithwendy was trending all day and all night Tuesday and well into Wednesday morning.

After a brief celebration from Davis’ supporters, confusion erupted when news organizations, including the Associated Press, reported that the bill had passed. People following on Twitter began grabbing screenshots of the Texas Senate results page: Tweets and Vine videos captured images of Davis supporters swarming the Senate hall.

— Nick Bilton (@nickbilton) June 26, 2013

At 12:22 p.m. local time, smack in the middle of the chaos, a tweet came from the office of California Gov. Jerry Brown. “Bold, bipartisan vote from the Senate tonight." About 15 minutes later, Brown removed the tweet and sent a follow-up to clarify he was referring to the California senate. Then, close to 1 a.m. in Austin, confirmation came. In her first tweet once the result became official, Wendy Davis declared victory.  Republican Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, meanwhile, declared that a battle was ahead. Supporters of Davis who didn’t see the conclusion of the events woke up to the news that the grassroots filibuster had worked.

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