Political Party/527

Battleground Texas

Website:

www.battlegroundtexas.com

Formation:

2013

Type:

Democratic-aligned PAC

Founder:

Jeremy Byrd

Advisory Board Chair:

Jenn Brown

Political Director:

Oscar Silva

Battleground Texas is a Democratic-aligned state and federal PAC founded in 2013 by Jeremy Bird, a Democratic political operative. The organization’s mission is to turn Texas, currently a Republican stronghold, into a “battleground” state where Democratic candidates running for both state and federal office would have significantly higher chances of winning elections. The organization’s strategy to accomplish this goal relies heavily on campaigning techniques developed during President Barack Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign, on which Bird and other staff members of the organization worked.

Background

In February 2013, Jeremy Bird, a Democratic political operative and national field director for President Barack Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign, founded Battleground Texas, a state and federal political action committee. According to Bird, the objective of the organization is to “make Texas a battleground state.” [1]

Within its first year, the organization raised over $1 million. [2] The organization often uses strategies that were employed by Bird during his time on the Obama campaign, including ‘Micro-targeting,’ and data mining. [3] Notably, the organization’s main strategy for achieving its aim involves rapidly deputizing members of a target-community as volunteers and then using those volunteers to canvass a given community on the theory that members of a given community are better suited to persuading other members of that community than relative strangers. [4]

Goals

As opposed to other organizations focused on achieving short-term electoral victories, Battleground Texas identifies and connects with Texans who might vote for Democrats, building a foundation for future Democratic campaigns. Part of the group’s long-term plan is to increase voter turnout among Democratic-leaning demographic groups. [5]

Volunteer Strategy

A major component of Battleground Texas’s volunteer strategy involves mobilizing new volunteers to register their neighbors to vote ahead of major elections. The group opposed legislation introduced by Texas State Rep. Jim Murphy (R-Houston), which requires that volunteers acting as deputy registrars receive training every two years. [6]

2014 Texas Gubernatorial Race

In 2014, during the first gubernatorial race following the group’s founding, the group supported the candidacy of Democrat Wendy Davis. Republican nominee Greg Abbott defeated Davis by 20 points. [7]

According to a report in the Austin American-Statesman, some analysts believed that Battleground Texas was partially to blame for Davis’s loss due to over-spending on consultants and a lack of understanding of “local flavor.” [8] Four years later in July 2018, both Davis and Battleground Texas were fined a total of $6,000 for campaign-finance violations during the race. Orders posted by the Texas Ethics Commission detail how Davis’s campaign and Battleground Texas, which jointly fundraised through the legal entity Texas Victory Committee agreed to pay two $3,000 penalties for failing to promptly report roughly $3.4 million in campaign contributions. [9]

Leadership

The following individuals are either directors of Battleground Texas or former directors currently serving on the organization’s advisory board:[10]

Jeremy Bird is Battleground Texas’s founder, a senior adviser on its advisory board, and the founding partner of the Democratic political consulting firm 270 Strategies. Prior to founding Battleground Texas, Bird was the national field director for Barack Obama’s 2012 presidential reelection campaign. [11]

Jenn Brown, originally the founding executive director of Battleground Texas, is currently the chair of the organization’s advisory board and the executive director of Civic Nation, a nonprofit based in Washington, D.C. that organizes and promotes progressive issue advocacy campaigns. Prior to joining Battleground Texas, Brown worked under Bird as the Ohio Field Director for the 2012 Obama reelection campaign. [12]

Oscar Silva has been Battleground Texas’s political director since September 2015. Before that time, Silva was the organization’s regional field director in El Paso during the 2014 gubernatorial race. Prior to joining the organization, Silva was the Latino vote director in North Carolina for the 2012 Obama campaign. [13]

References

  1. Wallace Gregory. “Could Texas be a battleground state?” CNN (Political Ticker Blog). February 26th, 2013. Accessed June 3, 2019.  http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2013/02/26/could-texas-be-a-battleground-state/
  2. Burns, Alexander. “Battleground Texas surpasses $1M.” Politico. July 15, 2013. Accessed June 3, 2019.  https://www.politico.com/story/2013/07/battleground-texas-surpasses-1m-094141
  3. Wright, Jeffrey. “The Hunt for Blue November: Why Battleground Texas Needs White Women.” San Antonio Current. July 23, 2013. Accessed June 3, 2019.  https://www.sacurrent.com/sanantonio/the-hunt-for-blue-november-why-battleground-texas-needs-white-women/Content?oid=2246307
  4. Roth, Zachary. “Melissa Harris-Perry / Democracy, Interrupted.” MSNBC. May 2 2014. Accessed June 3, 2019. http://www.msnbc.com/melissa-harris-perry/the-fight-turn-texas-blue
  5. Judis, John. “Yes, Texas Could Turn Blue” The New Republic. October 26, 2014. Accessed June 3, 2019.  https://newrepublic.com/article/119951/democrats-hope-battleground-texas-can-turn-state-blue-can-it
  6. “Battleground Texas runs into state registration laws.” Austin American-Statesman. Dec 26, 2014. Accessed June 3, 2019. https://www.statesman.com/article/20141226/NEWS/312269740
  7. Root, Jay. “Abbott Crushes Davis in GOP Sweep.” The Texas Tribune. November 4, 2014. Accessed June 3, 2019. https://www.texastribune.org/2014/11/04/abbott-crushes-wendy-davis-gop-sweep/
  8. McSwane, J. David. “How Battleground Texas hobbled the Wendy Davis campaign.” Austin American-Statesman. November 9, 2014. Accessed June 3, 2019. https://www.statesman.com/article/20141109/NEWS/311099764
  9. Ward, Mike. “Wendy Davis and Battleground Texas fined $6,000 for 2014 campaign miscues.” Chron. July 18, 2018. Accessed June 3, 2019. https://www.chron.com/news/politics/texas/article/Wendy-Davis-and-Battleground-Texas-fined-6-000-13085224.php
  10. “About Us.” Battleground Texas. Accessed June 3, 2019. https://www.battlegroundtexas.com/about-us/
  11. “Meet Our Team: Jeremy Bird.” Battleground Texas. Accessed June 3, 2019. https://www.battlegroundtexas.com/meet-our-team-jeremy-bird/
  12. “Jenn Brown: FULL BIO.” Forbes. Accessed June 3, 2019.  https://www.forbes.com/sites/civicnation/people/jennbrown/#80840002551d
  13. Goode, Jo-Carolyn. “Battleground Texas Announces Advisory Board, New Staff Hires.” Houston Style Magazine. September 16, 2015. Accessed June 3, 2019. http://stylemagazine.com/news/2015/sep/16/battleground-texas-announces-advisory-board-new-st/
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