Texas politics are often constructed in the frame of conservativism, but Texas politics are actually much more complex than that. Although much of the state is rural and conservative, there are growing pockets of liberalism surrounding cities and urban centers like Austin and Houston (King, 2013). According to Lawrence (2013), “ according to the Pew Hispanic Research Center, although Texas has the second-largest Hispanic population in the U.S., Texas ranks 17th in the share of its Hispanic residents who are eligible to vote That gap was significant enough in the 2012 election for an analysis by the Houston Chronicle to conclude that if Texas Hispanics had voted in equal rates with the state’s white voters, and if Hispanic nonvoters were to break for the same party as Hispanics who did vote, Texas would already be ‘purple’” (Lawrence, 2013). While Jane “Bitzi” Johnson Miller may initially seem a shoo-in for political office in the relatively conservative state of Texas, changing demographics indicate that she will have to conduct a very intelligent campaign to ensure her success.
Description of Candidate
Jane “Bitzi” Johnson Miller is a gubernatorial candidate for the position of Governor of the State of Texas in 2014. According to her biography, she is the granddaughter of a former governor, a well-known and respected conservative who governed the state from 1954-1958. Johnson Miller herself is a conservative republican, but she is primarily a businesswoman: she began her own software company in Dallas in 1993, and was successful with the sale. She began her political aspirations after she sold her software company to Dell in 2010 for $2.5 million. Johnson Miller is looking for advice and support on how to best run her political campaign in the state of Texas, and to maximize her grandfather’s reputation and political clout into a mobilizing force for her election.
Johnson Miller is a well-groomed, well-educated, attractive woman with plenty of appeal to the public; however, she fears that her political rivals may be gaining ground. She wants to ensure that her campaign focuses on her family values and her experience with business. In addition, her experience with business allows her to run a campaign that will highlight her ability to grow the slowing economy and provide jobs for many Texans who are currently out of work or perpetually unemployed.
Cultural and Regional Support
Johnson Miller will easily gain support among conservative voters, especially considering her history as an entrepreneur. Her hardest groups to win over will likely be the southernmost part of the state, including the districts along the border, especially because of the large numbers of hispanic voters in these areas. She will have regional support in northern and western Texas, although she may struggle for the areas around Houston and Austin, especially if her opponent is diametrically opposed to her in political philosophy.
Jane “Bitzi” Miller Johnson’s primary support will come from the conservative voters in the more rural parts of the state. Miller Johnson’s support will probably be weakest in the southern border parts of the state; like Perry before her, she will most likely find her strongest support in the west and the suburban parts of the state (Slater, 2010). Most of her support will come from white, conservative individuals, often from lower socioeconomic classes and the highest socioeconomic classes. She will likely struggle with the hispanic vote and other minority groups.
In addition, Johnson Miller will likely struggle with African American voters, who usually tend towards the democratic candidate; between African American voters and hispanic voters, she must be very sure that she captures the moderate vote, so that she can positively win districts that can swing more liberally and thus ensure her long-term success in the electoral race (The Texas Tribune, 2010).
The campaign themes for Johnson Miller will focus on her family-oriented values, her history as a business owner, and her focus on job creation. This will give her a good sense of balance for the voters: she does not appear too conservative for the less-conservative voters in the state. The campaign will focus on her successful business endeavors, and try to underscore the fact that she built a successful business that she later sold to a major corporation; for this reason, she will be in support of small business interests and the interests of business owners in general. This can probably net Johnson Miller a number of corporate sponsors that will help her greatly in her campaigning process.
In regards to a potential rumor about an opponent and a potential domestic violence issue, that issue would only be addressed by the campaign if it could be substantiated in some way. Miller Johnson will have widespread support throughout the state of Texas, and mudslinging can only make her appear worse in the eyes of voters if her campaign spreads unsubstantiated rumors.
Win or Lose
Perry won the 2010 gubernatorial race as a result of his ability to win over likely voters. Fortunately for Johnson Miller, the likely voters in Texas are still primarily conservative, white males, which is her primary target group. McKinley (2010) writes:
The governor won by campaigning on his record of creating jobs and on the state’s relatively good economy in the face of the worst economic downturn since the 1930s. Embracing Tea Party supporters and others in the right wing of his party, he also campaigned against President ObamaLike other Republicans across the nation, Mr. Perry turned the race into a referendum on federal spending, and argued that Texas had charted a different, business-friendly course of low taxes and low regulation. (McKinley, 2010).
This is why the recommendations of campaigning on a platform that encourages curtailing government spending and promoting small businesses and job creation is so important for Johnson Miller. In this way, she can avoid alienating moderate voters, who may make the difference between a win and a loss in more moderate counties. If she focuses more closely on the ability to create jobs than her social values, she may even be able to attract voters who tend towards the more liberal end of the moderate spectrum.
Jane “Bitzi” Johnson Miller is likely to win the race, because although the demographics are shifting in Texas, the minority groups of hispanics and African Americans generally do not vote in large enough numbers to ensure a win for a democratic candidate yet. However, if Johnson Miller does not pay close attention to her campaign message and strays too far from the moderate conservative voice that has been recommended, she can easily lose key counties, like Trinity, Falls, and Foard counties, which went unexpectedly democratic in the 2010 gubernatorial race (Slater, 2010).
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