Despite Wendy Davis’s national name recognition, it appears the weeks of bad publicity are finally catching up to her campaign. Likely Republican opponent and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott raised three times the amount of money as Davis did in the past cycle, a sign that Texans are quickly choosing sides in the election.
According to the Austin American-Stateman, Abbott raised $3.1 million in January, compared to Davis’s $913,000. This raises Abbott’s total to $29.4 million to Davis’s $10.2 million war chest. Austinist suggests that among the most significant factors leading to such an advantage for the Republican candidate is the constant stream of negative stories in the press about Davis. Name recognition can only get a candidate so far when every story about them is a scandal.
While Abbott had been leading Davis in the polls since last November, the increased incidences of inconsistencies in Davis’s image, and flaws with her campaign, have widened the gap between the candidates. A story published by the Dallas Morning News last month found that Davis had lied about her status as a single teenaged mother and falsely claimed she fully paid for her own education through work. In reality, Davis divorced at 21 and her second husband paid for much of her law school education. Davis pegged the story on Abbott, despite the lack of evidence that the liberal reporter who broke the story, Wayne Slater, had worked with the Abbott campaign or would have any desire to. She has repeatedly insisted that the story is true despite the evidence to the contrary.
The biographical errors are just the cornerstone of a much graver set of problems for the Democratic candidate. Davis faces an ethics complaint for allegedly misrepresenting financial statements to the Texas Ethics Commission. Davis’s tense history with Democrats surfaced, as she called it a “compliment” not to be trusted for her long history with the Republican Party, including donating to the George W. Bush 2000 presidential campaign. During her run in the Texas Senate, she spent well into the six figures on luxury suites in Austin. As for her actual campaign, one Texas reporter lamented that her media relations team was “the worst I’ve ever seen.”
In an event unveiling his extensive anti-crime plan for the state, Abbott responded to questions about Davis by asserting that he was no longer interested in talking about his opponent’s personal life. “It’s time to move beyond all this,” he told the audience, reiterating that he had nothing to do with the Dallas Morning News story and that he instead wanted to discuss “the issues that matter to Texans the most.” Abbott’s team announced that it will continue to campaign on specific policy proposals, like bringing e-verify to Texas and a more rigorous maintenance of the state’s sex offender registry. Davis has yet to respond to those proposals, focusing instead on her life story.