Enthusiastic Democrats vied to have their photo taken with State Sen. Wendy Davis Monday night at Hughes Hanger as she received the Harris County Democratic Lawyers' Association 2013 Clarence Darrow Award. The presumptive Democratic nominee for governor also signed pink running shoes (like the ones she wore when she gained national attention in filibustering a strict anti-abortion law in the Texas legislature) and name tags of recipients who wanted a memento.
Previous recipients of the award, which recognizes a lawyer, public official or advocate who embodies the principles of famed attorney Clarence Darrow, include Frances "Sissy" Farenthold, who was at the gathering, Jim Mac Perdue, Sr., Richard Mithoff, George Parnham, Anthony Griffin, Frumencio Reyes and David Dow of the Texas Innocence Project.
The award presentation was scheduled for this summer, but had to be rescheduled when Davis' father, Jerry Russell, was hospitalized from complications that arose after abdominal surgery in Fort Worth. He died in early September.
In a campaign-style speech, Davis told the enthusiastic crowd that the award had special meaning to her because her father, an actor and director who started the nonprofit North Texas theater company Stage West, was preparing to portray Darrow in a play before his death.
"It's particularly poignant for me to here be with you tonight because at the time I had envisioned inviting my dad to be part of watching me receiving this incredible award because for him particularly, he would know why it is special," she said.
Among the Dems on hand were former Texas Gov. Mark White, State Rep. Harold V. Dutton, Houston city controller Ron Green, State Sen. Sylvia Garcia, Judge Mike Engelhart, Judge Jaclanel McFarland, Judge Alexandra Smoots-Hogan, Harris County Attorney Vince Ryan, Justice Jim Sharp, and State Rep. Gene Wu. Joining in the excitement were HCDLA president Tim Riley, Barbara Radnofsky, Dr. Bud Frazier, Barbara Gardner and Gerry Birnberg.