Democratic state Sen. Wendy Davis was catapulted onto the national stage last June after staging an 11-hour filibuster in an attempt to halt a contentious abortion bill in the Texas Senate.
She’s now hoping to become the state’s first Democratic governor in nearly two decades — but new revelations over the weekend could do damage to her credibility and provide campaign fodder for her opponent, Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott.
Davis, 50, has been leveraging a personal story centered on hard work and single motherhood, but she’s taking fire for purportedly touting inaccurate details in her biography. The senator has even admitted that some of the details weren’t as tight as they should have been and that she needs “to be more focused on the detail.”
According to The Dallas Morning News, gaps in information don’t provide a truly authentic portrayal. The outlet described a condensed version of her biography that’s been disseminated as follows: “a divorced teenage mother living in a trailer who earned her way to Harvard and political achievement.”
While this is based in fact, there are new clarifications worth noting.
“The basic elements of the narrative are true, but the full story of Davis’ life is more complicated, as often happens when public figures aim to define themselves,” The Dallas Morning News reported over the weekend. “In the shorthand version that has developed, some facts have been blurred.”
So what exactly are these muddied informational tidbits?
Davis apparently wasn’t a teenager when she had her first divorce; she was 21, not 19. And the claim that she lived in a mobile home is true, though she only resided there with her daughter for a few months while she was separated from her first husband before moving into an apartment.
The senator did indeed hold down two jobs during her younger years — and she worked hard to help her mother pay the bills. But then she met attorney Jeff Davis, who helped her tremendously; the two married and had a child together.
Wendy Davis began studying at Texas Christian University while they dated. Her new husband paid for her last two years at the school and then funded her subsequent studies at Harvard University. Jeff Davis reportedly cashed in his own 401(k) account and took out a loan for her final year at Harvard — and while she was studying in Boston, he cared for their two daughters.
Later, after they divorced, her ex-husband was granted custody, the children lived with him and Davis reportedly paid $1,200 in child support each month, The Dallas Morning News reported.
Wendy Davis moved out of the home in November 2003 after the marriage began to crumble. Jeff Davis said this came around the same time he paid the final payment to Harvard.
“It was ironic. I made the last payment, and it was the next day she left,” he said, though Wendy Davis said she contributed to the family as well.
“I was a vibrant part of contributing to our family finances from the time I graduated to the time we separated in 2003,” she said. “The idea that suddenly there was this instantaneous departure after Jeff had partnered so beautifully with me in putting me through school is just absurd.”
One political supporter who spoke on condition of anonymity said that Davis will make a good governor, though he noted that she has always been extremely ambitious and nothing was going to dissuade her from making her aspirations a reality.
“Wendy is tremendously ambitious. She’s not going to let family or raising children or anything else get in her way,” he said. “She’s going to find a way, and she’s going to figure out a way to spin herself in a way that grabs at the heart strings. A lot of it isn’t true about her, but that’s just us who knew her.”
Read the entire Dallas Morning News article for more.