You don’t have such a high profile campaign flame-out as Wendy Davis for Governor without either some spectacular mismanagement within the ranks of the campaign, or a truly abysmal performance by the candidate themselves. While Wendy Davis certainly turned in an awful performance, it alone wasn’t the epic meltdown (I’m thinking Edmund Muskie’s tears or Rick Perry’s 2012 brain freeze) needed to derail a campaign all by itself.
No, the Davis campaign offered up a veritably ecology of dysfunction.
When a campaign fails this dramatically, the insider recriminations start popping up on why the disaster wasn’t their fault to keep the debacle from staining their own resumes. And now we have the first example from the Davis campaign.
“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.”
I once saw Staggering Internal Dysfunction open for No Controlling Legal Authority at Lollapalooza…
“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.”
So it would be Cari and Dougherty who want the world to know that “this huge, stinking debacle wasn’t our fault!”
“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 senator would need to win statewide.”
Karin Johnson would be pushed out of the campaign on June 11. And just because the advice comes from two Democratic campaign operatives trying to save their own bacon doesn’t mean it’s not true.
“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.’”
Liberals are particularly good at this specific type of self-delusion.
The Davis campaign was always going to have a particularly difficult challenge: how to suck up big-buck donations from the national pro-abortion network while still appearing moderate enough to get elected in Texas. It was probably an impossible one, but the Davis campaign certainly could have done a much better job than they did. Instead they made mistake after mistake and launched a series of dishonest and counterproductive attack ads against Abbott. (In this the Davis 2014 campaign made the same mistake as the Dewhurst 2012 campaign, preferring to run attack ads based on nothing rather than any sort of positive ads whatsoever.)
Davis was the wrong candidate at the wrong time who ran the wrong campaign in the wrong state.
Expect more recriminations of this type to surface in the coming weeks…