About 100 students and LBJ Future Forum members interested in public policy packed a room nearly to capacity Tuesday evening to hear GOP strategists and commentators discuss president-elect Donald Trump’s win and the future of the Republican Party moving forward.
The LBJ Future Forum, a bipartisan public policy organization, hosted The Future of the GOP in the Frank C. Erwin Jr. Atrium in the Lyndon B. Johnson Library with Emily Ramshaw, Texas Tribune editor-in-chief, who moderated the panel.
Ramshaw began by saying she didn’t think the discussion would be about a GOP party during a Trump presidency when she was preparing for the panel.
“As we were planning this conversation, I really thought we were going to be taking a different approach,” Ramshaw said. “Me and everyone else got it wrong. I thought we’d be having a conversation about how the GOP was able to rebuild itself after this very historical election, and it’s turned out to be a very historic election for a very different reason.”
Jason Johnson, chief strategist for former presidential candidate Ted Cruz, said he didn’t think he’d be seeing Donald Trump as president-elect when he was first approached to talk on the panel.
Even before the election results came in, Johnson said there were already people concerned about the future of the GOP and said some of these concerns still remain.
“There are just some more unique challenges we may face going forward,” Johnson said. “So much will be decided in 12 months starting in January.”
Temo Muniz, chairman of the Federation of Hispanic Republicans, said the Republican Party needs to pay attention to the Hispanic vote and votes from urban areas going forward.
“I lived in California, and as a proud Republican, I’m worried that we’re coming across the same trends in Texas,” Muniz said.
When asked about what they learned from Texan voter trends, Deirdre Delisi, former adviser to former presidential candidate Rick Perry, said the Democratic Party could come back in 2018 and have a chance at winning the gubernatorial race.
Delisi said the loss of nearly every urban county vote in the presidential election worries her.
“It makes me concerned that if the Democratic Party ever managed to find a candidate who could be someone credible, they’ll have a fighting chance in 2018, depending on what happens in Washington and also what happens in Austin,” Delisi said. “We’re [entering] a difficult legislative session, and if you have two bad situations going on at once, there could be a shot.”