The Election Context in Texas

The Election Context in Texas

The deadline to register to vote in the presidential primaries is February 3, 2020. Texas 2020 early voting begins February 18 and runs through February 28. The principal in Texas is March 3, 2020. In terms of the Governor's race, the 2022 Texas gubernatorial election will occur on November 8, 2022, to elect the Governor of Texas. As Texas does not have gubernatorial term limits, incumbent Republican Governor Greg Abbott is running for re-election to a third term in office.[1] 

  • The Context for this Fictional Campaign in Austin, TX, and the Surrounding Suburbs: Kyle, Cedar Park, Lakeway, The Hills, Round Rock, and Florence

The political parties are running an early test of the state's changing politics outside of Austin. They are questioning if the purpling trends of 2018 are persistent enough to elect a Democrat in a reliably Republican Office. The recent success of Beto O'Rourke suggests that in the future, more liberal, younger Democratic candidates might find an easier path to victory in Texas. As the proportion of Latino voters increases, one would expect more Latino and Latina candidates to be successful statewide. Unfortunately, Austin's march leftward may predict the political fortunes of the Lone Star State as the suburbs and major cities increasingly trend blue. 
Politics & Voting in Austin, Texas, The Political Climate in Austin, TX, is moderately liberal. At the same time, Travis County, TX, is somewhat liberal. For example, in the last presidential election. After voting Republican in 2000, in Travis County, TX, 65.8% of the people voted Democrat, 27.1% voted Republican, and the remaining 7.1% voted Independent.

  1. Candidate Description

Michael Smith was born in Austin, Texas, on October 9, 1969. 
His parents were members of the Democratic party. He learned his political values from them, so he is also a Democrat. He attended American University in Washington DC and graduated in 1991 with a bachelor's degree in political science and Spanish.  
From the time he was 18, he wanted to work in public interest work, specifically in politics, which is why he chose American University. The University's best departments are Political Science and International Relations. 
They have a robust internship program. Students can start working for nonprofit organizations, campaigns, and Capitol Hill as early as their Sophomore year. Mr. Smooth completed several unpaid political internships as an undergraduate. With laser-sharp focus, he began his first full-time political job as an aide to Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas.) He worked for Representative Lee in various capacities: legislative aid (two years), managing benefits & entitlements in the field office in Texas (one year), and then back to the Washington Office where he was promoted to assist Representative Lee with foreign policy bills, as she became a ranking member on the Foreign Relations Committee in Congress.
Work Experience Broken Down: Legislative Aid to a progressive member of the House of Rep (from Austin, Tx)-two years (1992-1996) promoted to manage benefits & entitlements (1997) promoted to work on foreign policy, as the rep he worked for was on the Foreign Relations Committee in Congress. (1997-2005)
He found his political voice while working for Representative Lee. Although he agreed with her on most national topics (defense, human rights, etc.), his local views leaned more left towards democratic socialism. When a seat opened in Texas, he ran for representative and won by a very narrow margin. The next two years were vital for Mr. Smith. He was fortunate to be placed on committees for both Welfare and entitlements and immigration as one of a handful of liberals from Texas. Each day in office was an uphill battle. Although he worked tirelessly with other progressive colleagues, after two years, he realized that he had to go home if he wanted to make a difference in Texas. He believed that "All politics are local."
In 2006, he returned home to Austin to work in local politics. (ran in 2006, began serving on the City Council at the end of 2006.) He served on the Austin City Council for ten years, finishing in 2016. The charter amendment, which also expanded the council's size, was intended to make the city government less monolithic and more representative of Austin's diverse voters. He then left politics for one year to attend to his elderly parents and spend more time with his family. (2016-2017.) In 2017 he declared his campaign for Governor of Texas for election in 2018.

  1. Candidate Message

Mr. Smith's message is a hybrid of two models:

  1. The Experienced Leader: the strategy of the incumbent officeholder or the experienced policymaker looking to move to a higher office. The focus is on their political experience and the things they have done for the district or state.
  2. The Progressive: This candidate will build his or her campaign around the promise of economic equality- better wages, taxes on the wealthy, equal rights according to race and religion, etc.
  1. Campaign Strategy

Due to Mr. Smith's comprehensive experience in both national and local politics, he appeals to many types of voters. The perfect positioning for Mr. Smith is to be aware enough to appeal to progressive voters without being so radical as to scare the business community. Context: According to the 2010 United States Census, the racial composition of Austin is 68.3% White (48.7% Non-Hispanic Whites), 35.1% Hispanic or Latino (29.1% Mexican, 0.5% Puerto Rican, 0.4% Cuban, 5.1% Other), 8.1% African American, 6.3% Asian (1.9% Indian, 1.5% Chinese, 1.0% Vietnamese, 0.7% Korean, 0.3% Filipino, 0.2% ...

This candidate has broad appeal because he worked nationally, with progressive responsibilities for an essential member of the House of Representatives and locally for the Austin City Council. He will naturally appeal to two groups:

  1. Young, liberal voters (which are crucial to turning out the vote), as historically, voter turnout is low. 


  1. Older Texans who were most concerned with long-term job security and the stability of entitlements such as Social Security. 

3a. Confronting Barriers that are Particular to Elections in Texas:
In Texas, the long ballot discourages people. Polls have shown that many voters become overwhelmed by the number of races on one ballot. Instead of studying the ballot, they give up and walk away. In Texas, all of the following can be on one ballot: National, US Senate, Congressional, statewide, state legislative, judicial, local races, and constitutional amendments.

3b. Strategy to Solve this Issue:
Our campaign has a plan to counteract this problem. We took the following approach from colleagues who worked on Vice President Al Gore's campaign for president in 2000. To appeal to the hundreds of identity groups across the country, the Vice President and his staff hired writers fresh out of college and journalism school to write targeted messages to various groups. This strategy was useful before the Internet took over campaigning, but the concept remains valuable. For example, within just one state, groups can range from "Armenian plumbers in Austin" to "Credentialed English teachers in Public Schools." In this way, identity, politics reach beyond the usual breakdowns that only cover gender and age.

However, today, we have the benefit of college graduates who were raised on smartphones. They not only understand the value of target messaging, but they have the technical skills to write and distribute targeted messaging on social media. We will empower each writer to craft various short speeches/talks on one or two topics only. For example, Welfare and Education. Each writer then will become a type of "expert." We will also use the usual breakdowns: white males, white females, college-educated, Mexican Americans with Citizenship, other Latino groups, etc. If our writers need any help with the social media campaign, 

This approach is vital for complicated and seemingly intractable issues such as Healthcare. Although much of Texas is Republic, since 2010, more and more Texans have signed up for Obamacare insurance. Mr. Smith's opponents have been spreading lies about this program. They have the money to do this on both television and radio. However, our writers will be able to circumvent this approach but using REAL-TIME data proving that although the program is not perfect, more people have adequate Healthcare due to Obama care. Again, no decent health insurance is cheap. However, our writers endeavor to show, with examples, that the insurance covers most treatments and has discounts built into the billing system. This creates thousands of dollars in savings as well as provides insurance for those with pre-existing conditions. The premium is nothing compared with the extensive coverage for a real illness, surgery, or course of treatment.

  1. Campaign Resources

Statewide offices and other offices that file with the Texas Ethics Commission include:
· Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, Comptroller, Railroad Commissioner, Land Commissioner, Agriculture Commissioner, State Chair of the political party.

  • We will file our treasurer appointment and required reports with the Texas Ethics Commission. Statewide offices and other offices that file with the Texas Ethics Commission include:

      4a. What are the contribution limits in Texas?
Unless you contribute to a judge, judicial candidate, or specific political committee supporting or opposing a judge or judicial candidate, there are no contribution limits under state law.

Texas law requires political contributions to be kept in one or more bank accounts separate from any other bank account maintained by an individual. Please note, the Texas Ethics Commission does not interpret or enforce any law governing the name on a bank account or electronic identification numbers.

  1. Campaign Resources
  2. What types of people are likely to work for this candidate?

Both Hispanics and African Americans are likely to both vote and work for Mr. Smith.

In this area of Texas, 48.7% of non-Hispanic whites 35.1 % Hispanics. Mr. Smith favors liberal immigration policies from Mexico & the Americas. Bi-lingual education in Spanish & English is another critical issue for voters. 

Many people are committed to preserving Latino culture as well as the dominant "white" culture. As a native of the area, Mr. Smith has grown up with Mexican American Neighbors and colleagues. 

Therefore, he will spend considerable time focusing on issues that are important to that community. Amongst many topics, Texas' voter ID law, enacted in 2013, is controversial. The law has been struck down in a series of court decisions that found it discriminatory. Also, Texas' education board only added Mexican American studies as an elective course to its public-school curriculum in 2014.

Although the African American population is only 6.3%, this is a vital demographic. Austin and the surrounding suburbs pride themselves on being inclusive. The history of slavery remains present in the South, and the African American community's success has extreme symbolic value to all citizens of this region.

However, the economic status of African Americans in Texas has significantly declined during the first decade of the 21st century, according to a policy report released by the Institute for Urban Policy Research and Analysis (IUPRA) at The University of Texas at Austin. The report, led by IUPRA Research Fellow Shetal Vohra-Gupta, raises important questions about several issues, such as racial disparities in families' economic status, including median income and overall poverty rate. The economic toll is most significant among African American single mothers.

"These inequalities speak to an economic system that needs to be redefined so that all races have equal opportunity, access, and results," Smith has said. "This begins with introducing policies that tackle the quality of education, pay equality, improved childcare services, and improved health and mental health services. When single mothers of color face racial disparities, the impact lasts for generations." According to the findings:

  • Among all racial groups in Texas, African Americans had the lowest median household income (about $29,000 to $36,000). Whites' figures far exceeded African Americans and Hispanics, while Asians had the highest median household income levels.
  • More than 70 percent of African American female-headed households were in poverty.
  • African Americans' income growth increased at a much slower rate than white populations. Furthermore, their median household income remained at a lower level than Hispanics, whites, Asians, and the average of all racial groups.

Additional issues that are important to all citizens are police brutality and access to quality education. Thankfully, Mr. Smith has a long record of legislation on these issues, both in Congress and locally on the City Council.

5b. What type of people are likely to donate money?

  1. Smith follows Senator Bernie Sander's model for raising money; he targets low and middle-income people. In the last four years (2015-2018), 257,190 contributions totaled $36,665,309 to Democratic and liberal campaigns, averaging $143 per contribution. Based on his long record of service, Mr. Smith can count on donations from low and middle-income individual citizens, as well as larger groups.  

However, due to his commitment to slowing climate change, he will not take money from oil and gas companies. This may create difficulties for Mr. Smith, as this is Texas! However, he believes that his integrity in the face of the worst problem of all, climate change, will multiply smaller donations. Additionally, he believes that this commitment and inclusion will create a groundswell of support for him. This is a known tactic in politics. Many underdogs have been elected once their momentum is strong.

There are examples of this on both sides of the aisle; both Ronald Regan and Bill Clinton's campaigns surged once the public felt an emotional connection to the candidate. 

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Political Writing