It keeps being a thing. The El Paso Times now reports that the payday lending issue has officially entered the gubernatorial election, and that it has created some big waves between the candidates. As I noted a couple of days ago, the controversy first arose when it came out that William White, the de facto Payday Lending Commissioner, was an official with such an institution. In another story first broken by the Times, Senator Wendy Davis (the Democratic nominee for Governor) called for the commissioners’ resignation.
In a retort, Attorney General Greg Abbott (the Republican frontrunner for Governor) pointed out that Davis had actually voted to confirm White in his role as Chairman of the Texas Finance Commission. This point, of course, was first made by Big Jolly Politics. While all this is true, Davis’ campaign went on to note the extenuating circumstances regarding that such vote. White was part of a large cluster of nominees to be confirmed concurrently, meaning that in order to block him she would have had to block all the nominees. Additionally, the Times notes that Davis had already made negative comments regarding White before his confirmation.
Abbott’s campaign has also made that point that an “industry executive” must serve on the commission. Once again, this is pretty misleading. In fact, all the law says is that a representative of the “consumer-credit” industry must be represented. This could be, per the Times’ suggestions, someone in the credit-card industry for example. Not usurers.
Now, I have previously written that all this amounts to “uncharted waters” for a Democratic candidate, and we recently saw why. The Houston Chronicle reports that, in taking a shot against Abbott, the campaign fudged some numbers. Specifically, while Davis’ campaign ripped her opponent for allegedly taking in nearly $400,000.00 in contributions from payday lenders, the more accurate figure is truly about a quarter of it.
This presents a problem for two reasons. First, Republicans (at least, the Abbott establishment types) are generally smarter and just more competent on the campaign trail, and will make quick work out of a fabrication from his opponent in a way that a Democrat could never even dream of doing in the post-LBJ, post-chutzpah era. Second, the story has now shifted to Davis’ campaign lies instead of the fact that Abbott took in six figures from the shylocks. That should be the big story, but it isn’t.
In the words of another blogger, this is a “fumble” for the Davis campaign. Though I would argue with the assertion that the Democrats ever had the ball, so to speak, to begin with. On any occasion, we will see how this issue peters out.