Entitled “Primary/General Election 2020 [Draft],” the document began showing up in Democrats’ inboxes Monday night. One of the main components of the plan is a disinformation campaign.
Republicans plan to spend about $6,000 buying up domain names similar to those owned by Democratic candidates. The domains would then be turned into ‘microsites’ that are filled with negative information.
The strategy prioritizes Democrats who beat Republicans by 4 percent or fewer. Six of the representatives targeted live in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. Four of the targeted Democrats represent the Austin area, and two are from Greater Houston.
Texas Republican Party Chairman James Dickey confirmed the authenticity of the document and hand-waved it away.
“Not sure why it’s news that we’re aggressively working to earn the support of all Texas voters for all our candidates,” he told the Houston Chronicle.
Within the proposal was a tacit acknowledgment that President Donald Trump has a “polarizing nature” that could prove damaging to Texas Republicans.
“Some Republicans will refuse to turn out during the General Election because they don’t want to vote for [Trump],” read the memo. The document recommends creating a so-called “contingency budget” to combat any damage the president might do.
The funds would be used to target ‘never-Trump’ voters. Republicans reluctant, or unwilling, to vote for president will be encouraged to vote for U.S. Senate and state legislative races.
One way the Texas GOP plans to court ‘never-Trumpers’ is by highlighting the party’s diversity. The plan calls for rolling out a series of short videos of candidates explaining why they are Republicans.
The proposal also acknowledges the difficulty Republicans will face in the election without straight-ticket voting.
Straight-ticket voting accounted for 64 percent of the ballots cast in Texas’ 10 largest counties in 2018.
The memo recommends a pithy catchphrase to encourage people to vote Republican down-ballot. One suggestion: “Vote Right To The Bottom.”
Turkey and football go hand-in-hand on Thanksgiving. Some say Thanksgiving is also synonymous with the Dallas Cowboys.
This year, the Cowboys will play their annual Thanksgiving game in Dallas against the Buffalo Bills. The holiday game tradition dates back to 1966 and places “America’s team” in the National spotlight every year.
Although Dallas’ Thanksgiving Day football tradition dates back more than half-a-century, it pales in comparison to ‘the other Thanksgiving football game.’
The Detroit Lions have been playing on Thanksgiving since 1934. When team owner George A. Richards decided to play on Thanksgiving, it was considered a gamble. At the start of the 1934 season, the Lions could only draw 15,000 people to a game.
In an attempt to increase ticket sales Richards decided to play a game on Thanksgiving. As Mental Floss put it “since Richards’s WJR was one of the bigger radio stations in the country, he had considerable clout with his network and convinced NBC to broadcast a Thanksgiving game on 94 stations nationwide.”
When the Lions played the undefeated Chicago Bears the game was a sell-out and the team was turning people away at the gate. Although, the Lions lost on the inaugural Thanksgiving Day game — and have 38-36-2 lifetime record — the tradition stands.
The Dallas Cowboys followed a similar route to their annual Thanksgiving Day game. In 1966, the Cowboys were still seen as an expansion team, despite having been in the league for six years.
In an attempt to boost the visibility of the struggling team Cowboys general manager Tex Schramm came up with the idea to play a game on Thanksgiving. However, there was some concern that a second game on Thanksgiving wouldn’t have the same draw as the Lions game.
To sweeten the deal, the NFL offered the Cowboys a guaranteed minimum gate revenue in case the game turned out to be a bust. Schramm’s eye for marketing wound up paying off.
A record 80,000 fans attended the first Thanksgiving Day Cowboys game when “America’s Team” beat the Cleveland Browns 26-14.
The Cowboys have gone on to have a 30-19-1 record.
The state’s top three elected officials — governor, lieutenant governor and speaker of the House — would love to cut off the financial supply lines to lobbyists who represent cities, counties and other local governments.
One reason is their belief in the primacy of state government, the idea that the powers of the locals flow from Austin and that mayors and county commissioners and others have gotten too big for their britches. It’s a reasonable thing to argue about.
Another is that taxpayer money shouldn’t be used to lobby for things some taxpayers don’t support, like texting-while-driving bans, restrictions on short-term house rentals, sanctuary for undocumented immigrants or plastic bag prohibitions. It’s hard to disagree with that — especially if you don’t give it any thought.
But think away — that rhetoric doesn’t hold water. Nothing happens in the state Capitol, or in your county courthouse or your city hall, with unanimous consent. At any given moment, somebody in government is making a decision or taking an action you don’t agree with.
For one thing, nobody’s favorite candidates win all the elections. Government is full of people you voted against, whether your party is in power or not.
To tinker with a cliché: Taxpayer money is used for what some of the people want, all of the time. If we barred spending any dollar in a way that someone objected to, we’d spend nothing.
Nothing in government, from wars to walls to Social Security, exists with unanimous consent. Every single tax dollar is spent against the wishes of some number of taxpayers. You win some, you lose some.
The taxpayer-funded lobbyist fight is about which elected officials — state or local — decide what to do with the public’s money from local taxes. The question marked the conversation with a political activist this summer that undid House Speaker Dennis Bonnen. Legislation banning such spending failed in the session earlier this year. But if you look at the assignments from Bonnen and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick for the next legislative session, it’ll be back.
“Study how governmental entities use public funds for political lobbying purposes,” Bonnen said in his homework assignment for the House State Affairs Committee during the layover before the 2021 session. “Examine what types of governmental entities use public funds for lobbying purposes. Make recommendations to protect taxpayers from paying for lobbyists who may not represent the taxpayers’ interests.”
Patrick’s instruction for the Senate State Affairs Committee are similar: “Study how governmental entities use public funds for political lobbying purposes. Examine what types of governmental entities use public funds for lobbying purposes. Make recommendations to protect taxpayers from paying for lobbyists who may not represent the taxpayers’ interests.”
The House is also looking at municipal ordinances and policies on things like short-term rentals, paid sick leave and homelessness, and at local sales taxes and how the revenues are used.
Elected state officials didn’t make this stuff up. They hear a lot from local taxpayers about soaring property taxes, and it doesn’t do them a lot of good to tell those taxpayers that there is no such thing as a state property tax in Texas. It’s all local. They see angry voters in pain and want credit for making the pain go away — which is more or less what those officials are paid to do.
If you don’t want your property taxes to go up, you probably don’t like it when someone representing your city government tells the people in Austin to stop trying to impose limits on property tax increases. If you want your city to increase services or hire more people, it might require more property taxes. And you can tell city hall how you feel about these things when you vote.
That’s the idea behind local control. And it doesn’t matter, really, whether the person representing the city is elected, a city employee or a lobbyist hired to handle one issue. Somebody’s making the city’s case to the people in state government.
State officials don’t see it that way. A new law — fought vigorously by those local government lobbyists — requires most local governments to get voter permission before raising revenues from property taxes by more than 3.5%.
We’ll all know within a couple of years how that works out. In the meantime, the state is redoubling its efforts to rein in the powers of those local governments. Bonnen, in his fateful recorded summer conversation with political activist Michael Quinn Sullivan, was blunt about it.
“Let me tell you something,” Bonnen said. “In this office and in the conference room on that end, any mayor, county judge that was dumbass enough to come meet with me, I told them with great clarity, my goal is for this to be the worst session in the history of the Legislature for cities and counties.”
“I hope the next session’s even worse,” added state Rep. Dustin Burrows, R-Lubbock.
“And I’m all for that,” Bonnen said. He won’t be back as speaker next year to enforce that. But the House members who will be back are working from the instructions he handed out earlier this week.
This article first appeared on the Texas Tribune. Click here to read it in its original form.