A recent article by Wayne Slater raised questions about Texas gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis’ account of her personal struggles. The article alleges that Senator Davis exaggerated her early hardships, financially exploited her then-husband Jeff Davis, and ultimately forsake her caretaker role in order to advance her career:
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. In the shorthand version that has developed, some facts have been blurred.
Davis was 21, not 19, when she was divorced. She lived only a few months in the family mobile home while separated from her husband before moving into an apartment with her daughter.
A single mother working two jobs, she met Jeff Davis, a lawyer 13 years older than her, married him and had a second daughter. He paid for her last two years at Texas Christian University and her time at Harvard Law School, and kept their two daughters while she was in Boston. When they divorced in 2005, he was granted parental custody, and the girls stayed with him. Wendy Davis was directed to pay child support.
The Republican response Mr. Slater’s allegations has been ugly, forcing Senator Davis to defend the legitimacy of her background to supporters and wholesome conservative meme-makers alike.
In response to the Dallas Morning News article and, perhaps, tweets like the one above, Wendy Davis released a statement to set the record straight and said in an email to supporters:
Mine is a story about a teenage single mother who struggled to keep her young family afloat. It’s a story about a young woman who was given a precious opportunity to work her way up in the world. It’s a story about resiliency, and sacrifice, and perseverance.
And you’re damn right it’s a true story.
Regardless of how old she was when she became a single parent, how long she lived in a mobile home, or how she financed her Harvard Law degree, Wendy Davis was a young mother who graduated first in her class at TCU, continued her education at an Ivey League institution, and went on to become a State Senator. She continually advocates for her daughters, her constituents, and her fellow Texans, literally standing up for them in the face of extreme adversity. She is, by any measure, a remarkable woman.
Sexism and fabricated scandals will not be enough to overshadow Wendy Davis’s courage and credentials. She has proven herself a tireless champion for education and women’s rights, and her critics are running scared because they know as well as I do that she is well-qualified to run this State.
On January 28th both of Davis’s daughters wrote open letters defending their mother and their upbringing.