Wendy Davis, celebrated filibusterer and Texas gubernatorial candidate, was forced to clarify some inconsistencies in her biography this weekend after The Dallas Morning News encountered some holes in her story. With a campaign narrative about how a young, single mom managed to get to Harvard Law and build a successful political career, getting the facts right in that story seems pretty important.
In a lawsuit in 2012, Davis stated that she was 19 when she divorced her first husband, when in reality she was actually 21. Both of those ages are very young, but still, details matter in law and politics. Davis told the Morning News, "My language should be tighter. I’m learning about using broader, looser language. I need to be more focused on the detail."
Additionally, Davis's campaign website writes, "With the help of academic scholarships and student loans, Wendy not only became the first person in her family to earn a bachelor’s degree but graduated first in her class and was accepted to Harvard Law School." Nowhere is it mentioned that she also received financial help at the time from her second husband, Jeff Davis, who helped pay for her education at both Texas Christian University and Harvard. Davis's two daughters stayed in Forth Worth with their father while she earned her law degree.
Though the two are divorced now, Jeff Davis doesn't appear to hold much, if any, ill will towards Wendy. He says that he was making good money at the time and regarding cashing in his 401(k) and taking out a loan to help pay tuition, he told the paper, "You do what you have to do, no big deal."
Davis said of her life story:
Most people would identify with the fact that we tend to be defined by the struggles we came through than by the successes. And certainly for me that’s true … When I think about who I am and how it’s reflected in the things I worked on, it comes from that place.
The broad strokes are still the same, yet, as political candidates are wont to do, any inconsistency is something to be seized upon. Depending on how you frame it the situation is either easily dismissed ("Her Biography Isn't Totally Accurate"), or snowballing ("Wendy Davis Biography Implodes"). Expect Republicans to question how much of Davis's success was arrived at one her own, and how poor her circumstances were to begin with.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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