Internal Campaign Emails: Wendy Davis Campaign Was ‘In Disarray’

Wendy Davis, Democratic candidate for Texas governor, visits her campaign field office at La Gran Plaza in Fort Worth, Texas on Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2014. (AP Photo/Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Max Faulkner)
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Months before losing the Texas gubernatorial race to now-Gov.-elect Greg Abbott (R), consultants for Democrat Wendy Davis’ Texas gubernatorial campaign warned her that the campaign was in disarray and headed for a complete trouncing.

The Texas Tribune obtained two internal communications from the campaign where these warnings were issued and the picture that was painted isn’t exactly pretty.

One of the memos, by Democratic operatives Peter Cari and Maura Dougherty, say the campaign “is in disarray and is in danger of being embarrassed.”

“The level of dysfunction was understandable in July and August, when we had no infrastructure in place — but it doesn’t seem to be getting better,” the Jan. 6 memo said. That memo was sent to then-Campaign Manager Karin Johanson (who would later leave the campaign). It warned that the campaign had “lurched to the left” and wasn’t effectively offering a positive message or any real appeal to swing voters that Davis badly needed for a path to victory.

“There is not a model where a candidate who appears this liberal and culturally out of touch gets elected statewide anywhere in the south — much less in Texas— without some inoculation,” the consultants said.

Cari and Dougherty also said that they and other consultants who had worked with Davis in the past were being pushed aside and lost access to Davis.

That memo, Dougherty said in an interview with the Tribune, was a late attempt to try and redirect the campaign’s direction.

“Thank God for Google alerts, because I wouldn’t know what was going on this campaign without them,” Dougherty said.

Roughly a month after the memo, Dougherty and Cari’s consulting firm, Prism Communications, were let go from the campaign. They sent another email to Johnson describing more problems with the campaign. They said the campaign wasn’t adequately portraying Davis as a Texan rather than a generic Democrat.

“Running Wendy Davis as a generic national Democrat is not only the quickest path to 38 percent, it’s also a huge disservice to Wendy, her record, and the brand she has built,” the consultants wrote.

In the end Davis lost to Abbott, 59.3 percent to 38.9 percent.

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