Texas Democrats have obtained a draft of the Texas Republican Party’s strategy for the 2020 election, which details how the party will deal with the “polarizing nature” of President Donald Trump and respond to criticism of a lack of diversity within the party.
The draft document, first reported by The Dallas Morning News, fell into the hands of the Texas Democratic Party on Monday evening and includes a list of 12 Democratic House members Republicans are targeting next year.
The 12 targeted Democrats in the draft document match a list the Texas Republican party provided to the American-Statesman in October. All 12 incumbents flipped seats in 2018 that had been held by Republicans. They include four Democrats in Central Texas — Reps. John Bucy III of Austin, James Talarico of Round Rock, Erin Zwiener of Driftwood and Vikki Goodwin of Austin.
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It’s not clear who wrote the document, which is titled “Primary/General Election 2020 [Draft].”
The draft seems to indicate concern among Republicans that some GOP voters may not show up to vote “given the polarizing nature” of Trump.
“I suggest we set up a contingency budget to target these folks with mailers, digital ads, and texts to encourage them to turnout for U.S. Senate, State Senate, State House, and so on,” the document says.
Republicans also will focus on a handful of online strategies to target vulnerable Democrats, according to the document.
After the March 3 primary, the document says, the party will generate so-called microsites, a group of web pages that act separately from the Republican Party’s website, for negative hits against targeted Democrats. Republicans also will purchase any “Democrat candidate domain names still available” and reroute them to the microsites.
The document gives an example of purchasing candidate domains, including two related to Zwiener.
Two site addresses — ZwienerforTexas.com and ZwienerforTX.com — were listed in the document as possible domains to purchase. By Tuesday morning, ZwienerforTexas.com rerouted to the Texas Democrats’ website.
“It’s not surprising to me at all that the Republican Party is planning disinformation strategies about us,” Zwiener said.
Republicans also plan to develop digital ads and a master site to hit Democrats in federal, state and local races.
Digital messaging will contrast “Texas values with liberal policies that don’t work in Texas,” according to the document.
The plan also lays out how Republicans will respond to criticism from Democrats that the party is not diverse. The Republican Party will create short videos to “highlight why these diverse individuals are Republican,” the draft says.
Zwiener said the draft document won’t change her strategy for running.
“My job is to keep serving the people of House District 45 and get the information back to them about the work we’ve done for protecting public schools, protecting the Hill Country and protecting the rights of individual Texans,” Zwiener said.
A spokesman for the Republican Party of Texas declined to comment.
Texas GOP Chairman James Dickey told The Dallas Morning News that “it should not be news“ that Republicans want to take back the seats they lost in 2018.
”We are doing that so we continue to dominate in 2020 just like we have for 25 years in Texas,” he said.
Travis County GOP chairman Matt Mackowiak said the party is trying to determine how the document was released.
“I don’t think there’s anything new that’s earth shattering or damaging or all that surprising,” Mackowiak said of the document.
Meanwhile, Manny Garcia, executive director of Texas Democrats, pointed to the draft as evidence that Republicans are worried going into 2020.
“They know they’re in deep trouble ‘given the polarizing nature of the president’ and expect ‘Republicans will refuse to turnout during the general election because they don’t want to vote for him,’” Garcia said in a statement, quoting parts of the document. “The Texas Republican Party is desperate. That’s why they’re going negative, building a fake diversity video, and are regretting their decision to eliminate straight-ticket voting.“
Democrats currently hold 67 of the 150 seats in the House, the most House members the party has seen in a decade. At the beginning of the 2009 legislative session, Democrats held 74 seats, compared with Republicans’ 76.
To seize control of the House, Democrats need to steal away nine more seats from Republicans in 2020.