Wendy Davis gets new campaign manager and more outside money

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis stuck to familiar economic themes Tuesday during her first public speech since replacing her campaign manager.

Speaking in her hometown of Fort Worth, Davis reiterated earlier proposals for new investments in education, roads, water and a range of other issues, while declining to say how much they would cost. She attacked Republican front-runner Greg Abbott on a wide range of issues, from education funding to health care a federal proposal to raise the minimum wage.

She repeatedly accused Abbott of standing against "hardworking Texans," a phrase she repeated more than a dozen times in her 30-minute speech.

"I am the only candidate in this race with a vision that works for all hardworking Texans, not just some," Davis said. Abbott's spokesman Matt Hirsch responded in an email that electing Davis as governor "would make the next four years in Texas look like that last six years under Barack Obama."

Earlier, the Associated Press reported that the Davis campaign has an impressive 133,600 individual donors she has enlisted in raising at least $16 million, which approaches the $17 million Abbott has raised since last summer," the AP reported. "More than one in every four dollars to Davis has come from out of state. More than 90 percent of Abbott's haul is home-state money."

But Republicans are beginning to make an issue of her out-of-state money, and it's not clear whether the cash will be enough to help her close the gap in a state that hasn't elected a Democrat to statewide office in 20 years.

Davis announced last week that campaign manager Karin Johanson, a nationally recognized Democratic consultant, would step aside for State Rep. Chris Turner of Arlington. The move was widely seen as a shakeup for a campaign that has struggled to gain traction on a message outside of Davis' filibuster against abortion restrictions — a nearly 12-hour speech that made her a national Democratic star.

Asked about Turner's influence on Tuesday's speech, Davis said he had some input, but the message was ultimately still hers.

"The speech comes from my heart and my experiences," she said.

Davis called for implementing full-day prekindergarten statewide, cutting down on testing and allowing more high school students to earn college credit. She mentioned her biography of a single mother who went from briefly living in a trailer park to graduating from Harvard Law School.

She also said Texas needed to invest in water resources and roads, and work with oil and gas companies during an ongoing energy boom to limit their strain on local communities.

She said the state needed to improve oversight of programs like the Texas Enterprise Fund, which Gov. Rick Perry has used to lure businesses and jobs to the state, but has been criticized as a source of corporate giveaways.

Programs like the fund "are not for enriching donors at the expense of hard-working Texans who have entrusted those tax dollars to us," Davis said.

Davis said she believed new investments could be financed by examining corporate tax breaks and "loopholes," not a tax increase.


Follow Nomaan Merchant on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/nomaanmerchant.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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