The Republican Party controls every statewide office in Texas, both chambers of the state legislature, the state board of education, most county governments; including all the suburban counties, and just gerrymandered a set of maps for their regional seats that may lock in their majorities for the next decade. So, why are national conservative activist groups coming to reinforce Texas Republicans?
Battleground Texas, the brainchild of Obama's National Field Director Jeremy Bird, had a simple idea when it kicked off in February: Start investing in and organizing Texas Democrats to create an infrastructure to create a competitive state. The Texas Democratic Party has been atrophying for years, where the focus was placed on “the next election” which would always depend on the candidate rather than longterm community investment. In February, Jeremy Bird and Battleground Texas came into the state saying this would be a long-term plan that focuses on community activism, meaning the campaign and activism will not go into hibernation a month after the next general election. This has translated into the state party stepping up their game as well; they hired a new executive director and applications are now available for regional field and fundraising staff, positions that have not be available as part of the state party's plan for a long time.
It's amazing how these little changes are leading to what would be the equivalent of a full scale panic among Republicans. Click below the jump to see how the Republicans are starting to lose it.
|Organization||Raised||Cash on Hand|
|Texas Democratic Party||$632,468.04||$90,156.68|
|Texas Republican Party||$2,186,429.00||$923,611.85|
We have already seen how fundraising has been proceeding for Republicans seeking statewide office, but the parties have to release their fundraising results as well. The Texas Democratic Party raised $632,468.04 and finished with $90,156.68 in the bank and The Texas Republican Party raised $2,186,429.00 and has $923,611.85 left in the bank, almost four times as much as the TDP. That is quite a difference!
Battleground Texas (BGTX) was not here for all of the fundraising biennium, but they were able to cross the million dollars raised threshold. Battleground Texas, as previously reported, raised over $1.1 million and still has over $600,000 left in cash on hand. The current cash on hand Battleground Texas has is enough to run a competent race for one seat in the Texas House, and it is a pretty good haul for the first fundraising report of a new, unproven political organization. Still, this should not be a fundraising report that makes Republicans panic.
Yet, here we are. We have seen earlier this year Republicans launch “Keep Texas Red,” “Let's Keep Texas Red,” and “Battleground Dallas.” While these groups have not had dynamic fundraising results, they are new ways the Texas Republicans have started to organize their activists outside of their already competent state party. Then, at the end of last month, they dropped a giant keg of dynamite: FreedomWorks, the multi-million dollar super PAC out of Washington D.C., announced they would be setting up “Come and Take It” to keep Texas Red. It's not just that another group would exist to take money from Republican activists, but they publicly pledged $8 million to keep Texas politics the way they are. That's a public investment eight times as large as what Battleground Texas raised to date so they do not lose any ground, This is on top of the $2.6 million raised by George P. Bush, $4 million by Dan Branch, and the $20.9 million that sits in Greg Abbott's bank account.
National conservative groups are spending $8 million dollars on top of an existing $27.7 million held by three of their expected candidates and the state party because they think they need to invest that much more to win.
How will the money be spent? FreedomWorks executive director Matt Kibbe stated in an interview with Texas Monthly the goal would be to send out 250,000 campaign workers through the state. A typical congressional campaign would have ten to fifteen paid staffers with two to three hundred loyal, regular volunteers. At best, Mr. Kibbe should be expecting around 10,000 folks to come out and help him; unless his plan is to bring in out of state, for-hire talent.
If the Democratic Party were to send finances and organizers to California, the meme of “Democrats in disarray” would be on the rise again, as it should be if that move were ever made. FreedomWorks coming to Texas with an eight-to-one financial advantage and no clear plan on how to use those finances only sends the message of legitimacy of the Texas Democratic Party and their allies as well as panic and confusion is what Republicans know. In a larger context, every dollar the national Republican Party brings to Texas is a dollar that will not be invested in existing, known battlegrounds such as Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. If this is how the Republican Party wants to invest in itself, more power to them.
Update: It was pointed out that the fundraising numbers for the Texas Democratic Party and the Texas Republican Party were incorrect. The numbers above have been updated to reflect the accurate fundraising totals and amount raised. Additional numbers for the Texas Democratic Party can be found here and here Additional reports for the Republican Party can be found here and here. I apologize for the inaccuracies.