FORT WORTH — Days before Texas Republicans descend on Fort Worth for their nominating convention, the state’s most popular Democrat took credit for millions in redevelopment here.
Magnolia Avenue is one of the city’s most vibrant inner city neighborhoods, and is also the backdrop for Wendy Davis' newest campaign push.
“This is an example of government doing what it ought to be doing,” said Davis, the Democratic nominee for governor.
She led part of Magnolia Avenue’s redevelopment during her seven years chairing the Fort Worth City Council's economic development committee.
“Through that I was able to literally attract hundreds of millions of dollars of investment and create thousands and thousands of jobs,” Davis said.
In all, 5,800 new jobs came and more than $780 million in investment was made citywide during Davis' time leading that city committee, according to her campaign.
The Democrat said it shows what she can do if elected governor.
But she is 14 points behind Republican Greg Abbott, according to an April survey by Public Policy Polling.
Still, Davis said her campaign has a come-from-behind strategy.
“They’ve made over a million phone calls. They’ve knocked on over 100,000 doors,” she explained. “What we need to do in this race is invite people who typically stay home to come out."
Getting the message out is one thing, but getting the vote out is something else. Democrats have yet to prove how they can actually get their supporters to go vote in numbers large enough to sway an election.
One of Davis' former City Council colleagues, republican Becky Haskin, remains confident in her candidacy. “She just doesn’t represent the Democrats; she represents the people,” Haskin said.
She predicted that Davis will still be able to attract suburban women voters despite trailing by double digits in recent polls.
“I think that a lot of women — especially Republican women — are looking at her very closely, and even considering her now, because some of the issues — whether it’s our own personal health issues or the quality of life issues she represents — impact us more than some of the issues the Republican Party is standing for now," Haskin said.
But Davis' Monday event was designed to show her as business-friendly — something Republicans in this state proudly proclaim.
It also shifts the gubernatorial race from education to economics.
Davis told News 8 she plans to finally release her tax returns by mid-summer.
“Of course I will,” she said. “I file an extension every year for the past six or seven years. I will release them as soon as I complete my tax filing. I expect that’s going to be in the next couple months.”
Davis deflected a question about recent fundraising out of state. She said more than 125,000 donors will be on her upcoming June filing.
Her campaign is very vocal with daily statements and news releases, but some people even in her own party have questioned whether the candidate is as visible as she could be.
“I’m visible as I possibly can be,” Davis said. “I’ve been traveling the state. I think you know I had surgery a few weeks ago that I’ve been recovering from. But I’m on the road every single day.”
Recent surgery on her neck slowed her down a little, as well, she revealed.
“It looks like my running days are over for at least the next six or seven months,” Davis said.
In September, Penguin publishes her autobiography titled "Forgetting to be Afraid."
“The book is a memoir, and it is a deeply personal telling of my story and how I came to be the public servant that I am and the values that I hold,” Davis said.
But the state senator said she doubted the book will settle questions about her background.
“Oh, likely not,” she added candidly. “I mean, this is a tough campaign, and I expect there will be tough challenges ahead.”