Briscoe: At The End Of The Day COVID-19 Is Still All Politics

Matt Briscoe

Well, word got out this week that Texas Democrats are diverting their organizers to the ongoing COVID-19 response here in Texas. Apparently that is not the only resource that they shifted to the fight. Insiders confirmed that democratic strategists are working overtime with democrat county judges and party chairs to make sure that they walk away looking like they were the unsung heroes of the pandemic, and as if they were in charge all along.

In fact, party officials did little to deny that this week when I asked them if they were working with local officials on their response plans?

"Of Course we are," said Democratic Party spokesperson Abhi Rahman. "We have spoken with, I believe every urban county chair, democrat county judge and urban mayor in the state and we have made sure that they know we are here for them."

But the story goes deeper than just talking to them.

It appears that memos were sent out on Monday by the party to Democrat County Judges across the state providing them with language, resources and ideas for these "stay-at-home" orders that are popping up everywhere.

"We want to send the message to Texans that we are unified in our response," said Rahman.

But wait, who exactly is unified?

Apparently the only unity is within the Democrat party, because County Judges offices in Travis, Hayes, Harris and Dallas County all confirmed that they had been in contact with officials at the State Party Headquarters about a "unified Coronavirus response."

In fact, there was apparently a memo sent out earlier this week, according to Travis County Democrats telling local elected officials what to do when they get questioned about this very thing. So, the fact is the Democrats were prepared.

Officials in Bexar County said that Bill Brannon, Senior Advisor for the Texas Democratic Party had been in contact with local officials in San Antonio coordinating a unified response since early on the crisis.

"I won't deny that he (Brannon) has been very instrumental in helping statewide democrats draw up plans of action for these stay-at-home orders," said another Democratic Spokesperson. "We are all in this together."

But for what reasons?

Earlier this week, Texas Democrats began calling for Governor Abbott to issue a statewide lockdown order instead of leaving it up local governments. Not shockingly, the Governor did not give in. Not expecting that he would, Democrats began working among themselves to make sure that they were unified in front of the cameras and that people like Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo stopped their infighting over the issue.

In fact, we learned on Thursday that Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo allowed Texas Democratic Party leaders to have influence over her stay-at-home order and that she consulted with party advisors on numerous occasions about how to properly draft and present the order.

"Judge Hidalgo wants to thank State and County Party leadership for their participation in helping protect the lives of Harris County residents," a spokesperson for Judge Hidalgo said on Thursday. "Without them we could not have such a productive and inclusive order."

Low and behold, here locally it is unclear if County Judge Barbara Canales consulted with Harris County Judge Hidalgo as she sought opinions on how to craft her order. But she did say that she spoke with leaders from around the state. Then they bring in hired guns to help handle the public relations aspect of it all and you see clearly how the scheme plays out right before your very eyes: Somebody gets the plan and tells somebody else who enacts it on their level.

Welcome to Texas politics, where we can't even really work through a crisis together anymore.