Over the weekend, the Texas Democratic Party, still big if not that powerful, took over downtown Fort Worth for its biennial state convention. The party's full slate of statewide nominees preached to the assembled choir, and the party did its business, passing a platform calling for a bunch of stuff that will never happen in Texas — universal health care, an increased minimum wage and the expansion of abortion rights — and training volunteers ahead of the general election. Texas Republicans made an appearance, too, targeting the woman at the top of the Texas Democratic ticket.
The Texas GOP trolled around the convention Friday afternoon in a hearse outfitted with Texas' Democrats supposed epitaph reading, "Texas Democratic Party R.I.P. 1846-2018."
Late Friday, the Republicans revealed just what they were driving at, showing off an obituary they planned to run in Saturday's Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
"After years of suffering," the obituary begins, "the Texas Democratic Party passed away peacefully and without notice. The Party had been in failing health for a number of years."
After recounting its rival party's fall from grace, highlighted by Greg Abbott's 20-point demolition of Wendy Davis in the 2014 race for Texas governor, the Texas GOP gets down to the business at hand with an attack on Valdez based on some opposition research that made its debut a couple of weeks ago.
"This year, despite predictions of a Democrat wave sweeping the country following the election of Donald Trump," the obituary continues, "the Texas Democrat Party struggled to find a candidate to run for governor. The party began to hemorrhage following news reports that their Gubernatorial nominee owes thousands in delinquent property taxes."
According to Dallas County records, Valdez had more than $12,000 in unpaid property taxes on seven properties in Dallas and Ellis counties. Sunday, her campaign said that she'd finished paying off the back taxes.
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"In lieu of flowers, please send contributions to the Dallas County tax collector's office to help cover their nominee's arrears," the mock obituary concludes. No 2018 candidate other than Valdez earned a mention.
In her speech to the convention Friday, Valdez, whose campaign did not return a request to comment on the Republican attacks, stayed positive, highlighting her background in law enforcement and her history of overcoming long odds to win elections.
"In 2004, as the underdog — Hispanic, female, lesbian, Democrat — in a red county, I was elected the sheriff of that same town that turned us away," Valdez said of her first victory in Dallas County.
In the latest poll of Abbott and Valdez's gubernatorial race, the sheriff trailed the incumbent governor by 19 points, 53-34.