Wendy Davis Comes to a Moment of Truth
When it comes to portraits, a gauzy look can be a welcome thing for people of a certain age. But politics takes place in an unforgiving spotlight, as Texas Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Wendy Davis discovered when the Dallas Morning News exposed discrepancies in her oft-told tale of bootstrapping her way from single motherhood in a Fort Worth trailer park to graduating from Harvard Law School. That narrative has been central to Davis’ appeal as she seeks to translate the national attention from her marathon filibuster in defense of abortion rights last year into votes for her underdog candidacy this year. It has helped her raise campaign cash both inside and outside of Texas, and has put her on a first-name basis with supporters not seen in Texas since the days of Ann—the late Gov. Ann Richards that is.
But then came “Trailergate.”
Fair or not, the label emerged last week above a Fort Worth Star-Telegram column that declared the whole fiasco to be “part campaign flub, part gender bias.” It signaled a new phase in the campaign, when shorthand takes the place of narrative, and labels, accurate or not, begin to stick. “Her biography will fall under a more powerful microscope,” Jay Root of the Texas Tribune wrote presciently last September, “and what voters are likely to find is the story of an exceptionally ambitious woman who has experienced both poverty and wealth, isn’t nearly as partisan as her detractors might think and was shaped as much by her single electoral defeat as the unbroken string of victories ever since.”