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Wendy Davis' Story May Have Misstated Details

Wendy Davis
Democratic state Sen. Wendy Davis' rise from a teenage single mother living in a trailer park to Harvard Law School is a centerpiece of her campaign for Texas governor, but some of the details of her personal story may be fuzzier than first thought.

Davis' critics said Monday that the small discrepancies suggest her past is not quite as inspirational as she has lead Texans to believe. Davis dismissed the issue as a baseless personal attack.

Texas hasn't elected a Democrat to statewide office since 1994, but Davis became an overnight political star with her filibuster of abortion limits last summer and so far has raised enough money that she could keep the race for governor close.

Davis, now 50, has long said she first took a job at 14 to help support her single mother and three siblings in Fort Worth, Texas. By 19, she was married and divorced with a child of her own and living in a mobile home.

After community college, she graduated from college at Texas Christian University and with honors from Harvard Law School. She later returned to her home state and built a successful legal career before jumping into politics.

But the Dallas Morning News reported Sunday that Davis was 21 - not 19 as stated in her online Texas Senate biography -when her first marriage ended in divorce. Also, Davis and her daughter Amber lived only a few months in her family's mobile home.

Things got easier financially when she married her second husband, attorney Jeff Davis. His income helped raise Amber and the couple's daughter together, Dru, as well as pay for her to finish college and attend Harvard. Jeff Davis also kept the couple's two daughters while their mother was studying in Boston and, when the couple divorced in 2005, he won parental custody and she was ordered to pay child support, according to the newspaper.

"My language should be tighter," she told the Morning News. "I'm learning about using broader, looser language. I need to be more focused on the detail."

In a statement released to the media Monday, Davis said that "the truth is that at age 19, I was a teenage mother living alone with my daughter in a trailer and struggling to keep us afloat on my way to a divorce." She also clarified that she didn't officially file for divorce until age 20 and that it wasn't finalized until the following year.

Davis didn't address how long she and Amber lived in a trailer. But Davis' statement did say her daughters lived with her in Boston during her first year at Harvard and that she split time between Massachusetts and Texas to see them after that. It noted that Jeff Davis "helped her fulfill her dream of attending Harvard by cashing in a 401(k)" retirement account but added that the couple took out loans to cover the costs.

Davis blamed Abbott, who Texas' current attorney general, for raising questions about her past.

"We're not surprised by Greg Abbott's campaign attacks on the personal story of my life as a single mother who worked hard to get ahead," she said. "But they won't work, because my story is the story of millions of Texas women who know the strength it takes when you're young, alone and a mother."

Abbott campaign spokesman Matt Hirsch countered in his own statement Monday that Davis had "systematically, intentionally and repeatedly deceived Texans for years about her background, yet she expects voters to indulge her fanciful narrative."

Meanwhile, another potential question about Davis' past comes from the Facebook page of her mother, Ginger Cornstubble, which references attending Muleshoe High School in West Texas. That contradicts a 2012 suggestion by Davis that her mother had just a sixth grade education.

But in her statement, Davis said her mother "had attended school only into the ninth grade."

Davis announced last week that she received $12.2 million through the end of 2013 and has $9.5 million in cash-on-hand. Abbott raised $11.5 million to end last year and reported a war chest of $27 million.

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TOM January 22 2014 at 1:35 AM

Texas is turning Blue again in the LBJ tradition.

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TOM January 22 2014 at 1:33 AM

Sounds like a Texas witch hunt by a group of consevertive idiots

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scmullie44 January 21 2014 at 9:24 PM

OMG! What a pathetic attempt to devalue an opponent! Do these nitpicking dates matter when Davis has accomplished so much?? While married to a wealthy attorney, she could have been sitting on her butt or out shopping for the most expensive clothes instead of busting her A-- at Harvard Law School! No man could study at Harvrd Law while raising 2 daughters, so her husband took them back to Texas after her first year. But because she is a woman, that someohow appears to make her an unfit mother?? If Jeff Davis were running for this office, that arrangement wouln't even be questioned because he is a man! Abbott's "war chest" of money can't "buy" the ofice of governor! But it is afforidng him an ugly "smear" campaign that won't work with intelligent voters!

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1 reply to scmullie44's comment
nyhuguenot January 22 2014 at 12:50 AM

You are aware that this woman left her husband the day he made the last payment on her education? She's a liar and a user. The perfect Democrat candidate.

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zzyxx January 21 2014 at 9:04 PM

even in texas democrats are a protected political group by our media and press....she/ll be just fine.

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1 reply to zzyxx's comment
TTigerLilyx2 January 22 2014 at 12:04 AM

Same media that let your State be Gerrymandered into districts that let republicantz win even when THE PEOPLE vote overwhelmingly for the other candidate?
Same one who lets big oil destroy your environment, that takes hundreds of millions of gallons of water for fracking, leaving ranchers to sell or shoot livestock and towns to go broke shipping in water and God knows how much wildlife to die a slow, lingering, horrible death by thirst??
That media?

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TTigerLilyx2 January 21 2014 at 8:58 PM

Holey moley do the republicantz have it in for this poor woman!
The bile, the malice, must mean they're scared shes gonna win, hahaha!
Must have opened a vein to pour cash out to hire the trollz tonight!
You go Wendy, Texas needs you!

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BARRY AND KATHY January 21 2014 at 8:52 PM

No matter how she had to battle adversity, it looks like she learned quickly how to become a politician.
Never let the truth get in the way of a good story.

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HERE COMES KEN January 21 2014 at 8:18 PM

Anything would improve Texas. Only Florida is farther behind the times.

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Hector Gonzalez January 21 2014 at 8:12 PM

She is nothing but a liar. As a liberal she will lie time after time to get what she wants. Liberals are known to be liars and dishonest people. Look at what we got in Washington and specially at the White House.

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3 replies to Hector Gonzalez's comment
susiehill3 January 21 2014 at 7:55 PM

ONE MORE THING THE STOCK MARKET IS AT AN ALL TIME HIGH. DON'T KNOW ABOUT YOU, BUT I LIKE IT.

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vector26436 January 21 2014 at 7:52 PM

Lying seems to be one of the pre-requisites for Democrats. I suppose she feels that if "The One" can lie over 30 times on National TV, about keeping your health care and doctor under Obamacare, a few "enhanced" stories of her past won't matter to low information voters...

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