Davis plays victim to avoid the issues

Published on Saturday, 8 February 2014 23:16 - Written by

State Sen. Wendy Davis must elevate her campaign for governor above merely playing the victim. Legitimate news stories questioning discrepancies in her biography are treated as partisan attacks, and everything her opponent (Attorney General Greg Abbott) says is portrayed as a misogynistic “war on women.”

Instead of campaigning as a strong Democratic leader in the style of Ann Richards, Davis and her supporters are resorting to a narrative of victimization.

When she was eventually forced to own up to errors in her official biography, here’s how she responded in a speech to Travis County Democrats.

“Over the last 10 days, my opponent and his allies have done everything in their power to distort the facts and distract the voters from what’s at stake in this election,” she said. “When it comes to these attacks on my life story, I don’t take it personally. But you should. Because my story is the story of millions of people across this state, people who make mistakes, people who are faced with hard decisions and long odds but keep fighting because they will do anything to give their families a chance at a better life. If you’re one of those people… then Greg Abbott isn’t just attacking my story. He’s attacking yours.

Let’s set the record straight. Questions about the accuracy of Davis’ official biography weren’t raised by Greg Abbott; they were raised by the Dallas Morning News.

And those questions aren’t “attacks” — they’re legitimate issues in this campaign for the state’s highest office. If she can’t get her own official biography right, that says something about her veracity.

And her campaign’s response (which didn’t come until 11 days after the discrepancies were revealed) says something about the quality of people she’s surrounding herself with.

In fact, even many media outlets friendly to the Democratic Party are bemoaning her campaign’s ineptitude. The Texas Observer calls it the “Wendy Davis’ Media Fail.”

“The Wendy Davis operation is about the worst at media relations that I’ve ever seen. Her team’s mismanagement of the press is damaging her candidacy,” the Observer’s Dave Mann wrote in January. “The foul-ups began as soon as Davis entered the race, and hired a young and relatively inexperienced communications team that had spent little to no time working as reporters. At first, the mistakes were minor, even funny. For instance, Davis’ press staff directed a Texas Tribune reporter to the wrong place for an event and gave a Texas Observer reporter the wrong address to their own campaign headquarters… As the weeks went by, Davis’ team often treated the press with suspicion, asking repeatedly what a story would say before granting access to staffers, refusing to confirm basic campaign scheduling details and shielding Davis from in-person interviews with some major outlets.”

The McAllen Monitor’s Sandra Sanchez (a Davis supporter) calls the campaign “amateurish” and “not ready for prime time.”

That’s troubling. But far more troubling is Davis’ tactic of portraying herself as a perpetual victim.

Texas needs a strong leader. Davis needs to show that she can be one.