Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis (D) has touted her rags-to-riches personal narrative to appeal to voters on the campaign trail.
But it turns out the gubernatorial hopeful’s campaign narrative hasn’t gotten the details exactly right.
Davis acknowledged in an interview with the Dallas Morning News published Saturday that she and her aides have blurred some of the facts in her biography, like her age when she was first divorced and how she paid for her education.
“My language should be tighter,” Davis told the Morning News. “I’m learning about using broader, looser language. I need to be more focused on the detail.”
Until now, Davis’ official story began at age 19, when she found herself a divorced teenage mother living in a mobile home. From there, she worked two jobs to support her daughter and attended community college followed by Harvard Law “with the help of academic scholarships, student loans, and state and federal grants,” according to her campaign website.
The Morning News corrects that record: Davis was 21 when she divorced, and only lived in a trailer for a few months before securing an apartment for her and her daughter.
The newspaper also points out that Davis married a second husband at age 24, Jeff Davis, who paid for her final two years at Texas Christian University.
“It was community resources. We paid for it together,” Davis told the newspaper, adding that she “was a vibrant part of contributing to our family finances from the time I graduated to the time we separated in 2003.”
When Davis got into Harvard, her ex-husband took care of their children and took out funds from his 401(k) account as well as a loan to pay for her final year there, according to the Morning News.
Jeff Davis said paying for part of his ex-wife’s education wasn’t a “big deal,” and told the Morning News that her past financial struggles were real.
“A lot of what she says is true,” he told the newspaper. “When she was 21, it became a little easier for her. The first 21 years were about working one, two and three jobs, trying to get through, raising a kid, driving an old Toyota pickup truck that was the smallest you could find.”
Davis’ father, Jerry Russell, also defended his daughter’s successes in an October interview with Texas Monthly.
“She is who she is, I promise you that,” Russell said. “The whole situation with the mother working at Braum’s–that’s all true.”
So far, Davis has raised $12 million for her campaign, and she is sticking by her overall history as a single mother who overcame poverty.
“Most people would identify with the fact that we tend to be defined by the struggles we came through than by the successes. And certainly for me that’s true,” she told the Morning News. “When I think about who I am and how it’s reflected in the things I worked on, it comes from that place.”