Memos From A Clown Show: The Wendy Davis Campaign

Matt Vespa
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Posted: Nov 13, 2014 3:40 PM
Memos From A Clown Show: The Wendy Davis Campaign

So, while we all know the Davis campaign was really, really bad, apparently it’s just the tip of the iceberg. Memos obtained by the Texas Tribune from a Democratic consultant firm that helped Davis win her State Senate seat portray a gubernatorial campaign that was utterly rudderless since January of 2014; executive campaign staff did not respond to phone calls, emails, and other forms of communication promptly–with the Davis campaign delivering the coup de grâce by firing the firm.

They warned that Davis was not shifting towards the center, and the notion of trying to animate a silent liberal donor base in Texas was a pie in the sky strategy. In the end, Wendy Davis, an “American icon,” received less than 40 percent of the vote (via WaPo):

Consultants for Democrat Wendy Davis warned her campaign months ago that the Fort Worth senator was headed for a humiliating defeat in the Texas governor’s race unless she adopted a more centrist message and put a stop to staggering internal dysfunction.

The warnings are contained in two internal communications obtained by the Texas Tribune and written at the beginning of the year by longtime Democratic operatives Peter Cari and Maura Dougherty.

“The campaign is in disarray and is in danger of being embarrassed,” Cari and Dougherty wrote in a lengthy memorandum Jan. 6. “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.”

Addressed to then-Campaign Manager Karin Johanson, the memo warned that the Davis campaign had “lurched to the left,” was failing to communicate a positive message and offered virtually nothing to the swing voters the [state] senator would need to win statewide.

The Prism consultants concluded that the campaign was either desperately broken or that the hierarchy had decided to portray Davis not as a Texas moderate but rather a “national Democrat, appealing to liberal donors in the mistaken belief that there is a hidden liberal base in Texas that will turn out to vote if they have a liberal candidate to support.”

Dougherty admitted that if it weren’t for Google Alerts, she would have no clue what was going on with the Davis campaign. Additionally, she noted that while Davis probably would have lost if she had run a competent campaign, “it’s possible to lose and still look good.”

Democrats have failed to move Texas towards the left, and Davis’ 20-point beating didn’t help.