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Congratulations!  You have just been hired to organize and manage the 2018 Gubernatorial Campaign for Jane “Bitzi” Johnson Miller.  She is the granddaughter of former governor Joe “Big Daddy” Johnson (Governor in a fictional Texas from 1954-1958) and a conservative Republican.  She was born and raised in west Texas on a ranch. Divorced, with two grown children, she started her own software company in Dallas in 1993- she sold it to Dell in 2014 for $2.5 million. Based on what you know about the history, geography, economy and political culture of Texas, advise “Bitzi” Johnson Miller on how she should run her campaign.  Based on the lectures, course readings and an analysis of the distribution of presidential and gubernatorial votes in 2014 (http://www.texastribune.org/2014/11/05/interactive-compare-governors-race-2010-2014/) develop a campaign plan to help “Bitzi” win the 2018 gubernatorial election in Texas. The paper should make it clear that you understand what kind of candidate can win in Texas,, where they are likely to get votes; what types of people are likely to vote for your candidate, what issues are important and how those issues will appeal to voters and why a candidate is likely to win or lose in The Lone Star State!

Expert Answers

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In politics, a successful candidate is one who can use every aspect of his or her identity to cull voters. Let's go over what we know about "Bitzi": She is a wealthy white woman; she descends from a political legacy; she is divorced with two children; she is an entrepreneur; she is a conservative Republican, but one who resides in Dallas, which makes her rather cosmopolitan.

First, Ms. Miller must court donors. She should start in Dallas, not only because it is the state's wealthiest city, but also because she has business contacts there. To attract these donors, she will emphasize her commitment to tax cuts and insist that she will fight any federal pressure to get Texas to raise its minimum wage. She will position herself as a free-market capitalist who wants to make Texas safe for business and resistant to "big government" interference.

In her first TV ads, she will not only depict herself as a strong, individualistic, business-savvy candidate, but also as Governor "Big Daddy" Johnson's granddaughter. She will evoke her grandfather in her ads in order to remind her conservative voters -- particularly elderly ones -- that she wishes to "take Texas back" to "a simpler time" in which everyone who was willing to work hard had a fair shot. 

On the campaign trail, Ms. Miller will work especially hard to court white, middle-aged female voters. She will get personal. She will talk to them about the difficulties of her divorce and the demands of being a working mother. However, she will also stress that she does not support abortion, except in cases of rape, incest, or a threat to the mother's life. To ensure that she remains favorable to more moderate female voters, she will say that she does support access to contraceptives and STD screening. She will frame her views on abortion within her ideas about personal responsibility and self-sacrifice. 

She will take her family-values message to Latino voters in the Rio Grande Valley. She will tell them that she will work to improve the schools in their communities so that their children can have "a fair shot." She will also emphasize her support for a "pathway to citizenship," saying that law-abiding Latino immigrants, particularly those with family in Texas, should not be denied an opportunity to be naturalized. Moreover, families -- in keeping with her values -- should not be kept apart due to a broken immigration system. She will emphasize that the broken system is the fault of the federal government and not of Texas; but, once she becomes governor, she will do all she can at the state level. 

When speaking on the issue with white voters, she will briefly touch on her support for "a pathway to citizenship," but to this audience, she will focus more on guest-worker programs and efforts to increase border security. 

She will travel to West Texas and ensure ranchers that she will keep farm subsidies in the state budget. She will also repeat her messages of low taxes and minimal government interference. However, most of her stories will be personal. She will talk about growing up on a West Texas ranch. She will talk about her mother and, particularly, her father. She will recall memories of her grandfather, and her first trip to "the big city" (Austin) to visit his office. She may even say that it was then, during one of those visits, when she decided that she, too, would one day become governor. 

She will visit conservative colleges and universities, such as Southern Methodist University, and talk about her business career -- particularly her deal to sell her company to Dell. She will talk about the importance of taking risks in life, of not being afraid of failure. 

Ms. Miller will run as a business-savvy, individualistic, fiscal conservative. She will voice support for some socially conservative ideas (e.g., no to abortion), but she will not emphasize them on the campaign trail. She will work to connect with the Latino community, as she would rightly see them as the future of the state; but she would do so in a way that would not alienate her white base. Her ideas about government will be more Libertarian-leaning: free markets, minimal federal interference. If she can solidify her message, she can attract major endorsements from a diverse group of politicians, including current governor, Greg Abbott (we will assume he is ending his gubernatorial career, maybe focusing on a presidential run) and former Congressman, Ron Paul.

She will not make much effort to court black voters. Given her background, there is little that would make her attractive to Texas's black constituency. The only effort I see her making is, perhaps, participating in a church service at a notable black Baptist church in Dallas or Houston.

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