Involvement of Davis Daughters Seen as High Stakes Gambit in Governor's Race
by Jim Forsyth, photo credit Getty Images
The two adult daughters of Texas gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis stepped forward today to defend their mother against what they called ‘malicious and false charges’ in the increasingly contentious high stakes political contest.
Dru Davis, 25, and Amber Davis, 31, in ‘open letters’ released by the Democrat’s campaign, call Davis a ‘remarkable mother’ who was ‘always there for us.’
Davis’ campaign has been knocked off stride in the past ten days, following a Dallas Morning News report that she misstated some key facts about the rags to riches biography which has become a key factor in the little known State Senator’s appeal.
Republican state Attorney General Greg Abbott, the likely Republican nominee for governor, singled out an admission by Davis that she left the two young girls in the care of her then-husband in Texas while she attended Harvard Law School. Republicans have mercilessly blasted Davis as ‘abandoning’ her children, a charge which carries much weight in this socially conservative state.
“I feel the need to be crystal clear on the malicious and false charge of abandonment as nothing could be further from the truth,” Drew Davis wrote. “My mom has always shared equally in the care and custody of my sister and me.”
Amber Davis, who has frequently accompanied her mother on the campaign trail, said the abandonment charges are ‘ludicrous.’
“I have a hard time understanding how such hate and negativity can result from one person’s false accusations,” Amber wrote.
Cal Jillson of Southern Methodist University, a prominent Texas political analyst, says the strong comments by the daughters could be a good move as she seeks a constituency which is critical to her success—suburban women, especially Anglo women.
“Women could look at Wendy Davis being under assault and be offended by this and say, ‘women should be able to have ambition and contest for high office, without being charged with being bad mothers’,” Jillson said.
He said the Davis campaign was ‘flying high’ in the last six weeks, actually raising more money than Abbott and being met with enthusiastic crowds at campaign appearances.
“Their fundraising numbers went very well, but they seemed to be unprepared by what they should have expected, an assault by the Greg Abbott campaign on the story that Wendy Davis wanted to tell about herself and her rise from difficult circumstances to be a candidate for governor,” Jillson said. “She should have been prepared for this assault and had better answers and responses ready to go.”
The Abbott campaign did not respond to a call seeking comment.
The Davis campaign is being seen by Democrats as an opportunity to cut into the Republican dominance of Texas elections. Davis is facing two key hurdles in what is seen as a long shot race against Abbott, who has amassed a huge campaign war chest and has won statewide office four times, compared to Davis, who has never run a statewide campaign. In fact, the last person to jump directly from the Texas Legislature to the governor’s office was John Ireland, a former Confederate colonel who was elected governor in 1883.
Texas has not elected a Democratic candidate to statewide non judicial office since 1994, which was also the year George W. Bush captured the governor’s mansion from the last Democrat to occupy it, Ann Richards. Davis rocketed to national prominence with a lengthy filibuster in the State Senate last summer which ultimately failed to stop a restrictive abortion bill from being passed.
“This is really a new candidate to statewide office being rocked by charges that should have been anticipated,” Jillson said. “It remains to be seen whether she will be taken down by these charges.”