On November 9, 2008, The Fort Worth Star Telegram ran a profile of Wendy Davis after her election to the State Senate, A confident fighter, Wendy Davis enters a new chapter in her political life: state senator. The full article is not available online, but I found it in a database.

The article was a fairly pedestrian account of Davis’ political history, but included two interesting parts (emphasis added):

She transferred to Texas Christian University , where she met her second husband, Jeff Davis , who had served on the Fort Worth City Council in the 1970s. Jeff Davis was on the board of Stage West, where Wendy Davis’ father worked.

After graduating first in her class at TCU, Wendy Davis went to Harvard Law School . She and Jeff Davis divorced in 2003.

During law school, Davis worked summers at Kelly Hart & Hallman, and, after graduating, she landed a prestigious job as a law clerk for a federal judge in Dallas.

But she was turned down for a full-time job at Kelly Hart . Davis said early in her first campaign that she thought it was because of her outspoken opposition to the zoo’s parking plan. Her implication was that the firm was trying to silence one of the zoo’s critics rather than debate the issue.

In a recent interview, Davis said she brought up the issue with the firm in 1996 to make a point that the city needed more “process,” her watchword for getting input from neighborhoods on big decisions.

“I would articulate it a little more carefully today,” she said.

In that first campaign, Davis faced Cathy Hirt , Lee Saldivar and Jenny Phillipson . She made it into a runoff against Hirt, but lost by 90 votes. One of the keys was turnout in Ryan Place , the neighborhood where Hirt lived.

Davis later sued the Star-Telegram and former Publisher Richard L. Connor, alleging that the paper ran a series of “false and defamatory” articles to keep the zoo issue alive, including an editorial that ran the day of the runoff. A Dallas district judge threw out the suit on free-speech grounds, and Davis never got to prove those allegations in court.

Davis, now the CEO of Republic Title’s Fort Worth office, said last week that she learned a lot from her first campaign, including the need to “walk the path.”

“I thought I could just announce to all these people that I was a caring, thoughtful person, and they’d believe me,” she said.

“There’s value in sitting back and reflecting on your own shortcomings.”

Speaking more carefully and precisely in political campaigns, and reflecting on one’s own shortcomings, were lessons Davis understood at least as early as 2008.

It’s too bad she didn’t learn those lessons, as she launches a war against a reporter for the Dallas Morning News and the Greg Abbott campaign for the exposure of her personal narrative as not quite accurate.


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