Texas Democrat Davis' Gov. Campaign Unscathed Despite Resumé Ruckus

Image: Texas Democrat Davis' Gov. Campaign Unscathed Despite Resumé Ruckus

Tuesday, 04 Feb 2014 03:12 PM

By John Gizzi

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Democratic state Sen. Wendy Davis of Texas may be engulfed in a resumé ruckus, but the revelations about her misstatements haven't affected fundraising for her race for governor of the Lone Star state against the likely GOP nominee, state Attorney General Greg Abbott.

Funding usually dries up when candidates are found to be exaggerating or making up their life stories, yet Davis so far seems unhurt by disclosures about her true biography.

Davis stated that she paid for her college education and Harvard Law School studies through scholarships and working while a single mother. It turns out that her second husband took out a loan and cashed out his 401(k) to pay for her undergraduate and legal studies. Upon completing her law degree, Davis divorced him. She was later ordered to pay child support.

But Davis has developed a fervent following since her 11-hour filibuster last summer to thwart legislation in the state Senate that would have created tougher abortion regulations.

Although the measure eventually passed, The New York Times and other national media highlighted Davis, and even President Obama weighed in with words of support through Twitter.

Since the revelations appeared in The Dallas Morning News two weeks ago, Davis, 50, has reportedly raised an additional $2 million above the $12 million she had raised before the resumé storm.

One Fort Worth-area source who requested anonymity told Newsmax that Davis "is likely to get another donation of $1 million from one of her real 'true believers' soon."

With no limits on personal or corporate donations to candidates for state offices, Davis' campaign has already received a $1 million check from Houston trial lawyer Steve Mostyn and another $1 million from retired Austin physician Carolyn Oliver. Oliver, who has never been politically active, donated another $1 million to Battleground Texas, a super PAC that is trying to make Texas more Democratic.

"The fact that national conservative voices such as Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter have attacked Wendy Davis has been enough to motivate her base," former Texas GOP  Chairman Tom Pauken told Newsmax. "And she'll use these attacks to keep raising big money from left-wing sources."

Greg Abbot's campaign "was happy to see Davis stumble right out of the gate," Reid Rousselot, an Austin-area Republican activist, told Newsmax. But he quickly added, "I don't believe that many Texans are paying attention to the race now." That, he said, helps Davis.

The last Public Policy Polling survey on the race to succeed retiring Republican Gov. Rick Perry was conducted in November. It showed Abbott leading Davis by a margin of 50 percent to 35 percent.

That was before the resumé bombshell hit. Dallas Morning News political columnist Wayne Slater also disclosed that Davis had made misstatements about when she was divorced from her first husband. She claimed it was at age 19, but it was 21. She also claimed she was living in a trailer with her daughter. In fact, they lived there "only a few months," Slater reported.

Similar "funny facts" have dislodged other candidates in past years.

In 1982, venture capitalist John Lakian was considered the favorite in the Republican primary for Massachusetts governor until The Boston Globe revealed major discrepancies between his past claims of a Harvard education and the truth that the Boston College graduate had actually taken an art course at Harvard. Lakian lost badly.

Two years later, Louisville, Ky., businesswoman Cissy Musselman was considered a major Republican contender for Congress. Then it was discovered that when seeking a job with Bristol-Myers in 1969, Musselman had claimed degrees from the University of Louisville and American University that she did not have. Bristol-Myers discovered the falsehood but kept her on the job. After the 1984 exposé, however, her candidacy fizzled.

Orange County Supervisor Harriett Wieder was the front-runner in a three-candidate Republican primary for Congress in Orange County, Calif., in 1988 and had the endorsement of the outgoing congressman. But weeks before the primary, it was discovered that her years-long claim of being a graduate of Wayne State University in Michigan was untrue — that it was her husband who had the Wayne State degree.

Wieder's claim that she needed to say she earned a degree in order to avoid sex discrimination in job interviews fell on deaf ears, and her opponent Dana Rohrabacher won the primary handily. Wieder died at age 89 in 2010.

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.

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