“Make Plano Great Again. Vote for Donald Trump Co-Chair Lily Bao for Mayor.”
“Help Ted Cruz stop radical leftists & expand gun rights in Plano. Vote Lydia Ortega for Mayor.”
“John Muns is the obvious choice in this race … Without exaggeration, [Bao] is like a comic-book villain, and it’s hard to imagine a more cretinous political actor who is actually taken seriously in their home community.”
These are just a handful of things being communicated to voters regarding the Plano mayoral race. Many have received the former two messages via SMS text from mysterious phone numbers. Others have seen handouts with the latter passage distributed to houses in various neighborhoods.
Such rhetoric has caused Plano voters to beg the question: if our municipal elections are supposed to be nonpartisan, why are all these political tactics hitting on some partisan beats?
“Those robotexts are not from us,” said mayoral candidate Lily Bao. “The essence of the matter is that [these texts are] illegal because [they are] misrepresenting the source and also, you know it’s dirty politics.”
Bao denied any involvement with these texts, alleging that these messages were sent to reflect unfavorably on her and the slate of other conservative-leaning candidates being endorsed, including those for Plano City Council, Plano ISD Board of Trustees and Collin College Board of Trustees.
Mayoral opponent Lydia Ortega also denied involvement, adding that her campaign tried to find the source of the texts aligning her with Sen. Ted Cruz to no avail.
“Ted Cruz doesn’t know my name,” she explained. “When we found out very quickly that we couldn’t do anything about it, we didn’t let it distract us and when we got messages back, we connected with those voters and explained [it] to them … They feel bad when we say, ‘Look, we didn’t send this.’”
Unlike the text messages, however, the source of the voter handout calling Bao “a comic-book villain” is rather clear. The nine-page document came from a Google Doc page shared on Reddit by Noah Skocilich of Cooperation Plano, a progressive activist group.
Meanwhile, a political advertisement from a political action committee dubbed “Informed Plano Voters PAC” said of mayoral candidate John Muns, “When John was School Board Trustee: the School Board pursued a costly court case against religious freedom of families and children.”
A separate flyer disparaging Muns accused him of supporting “cancel culture” and a “war on Christmas,” and tied him to a high-profile “supporter of the Defund the Police leader, Congresswoman Ilhan Omar.” Although the advertisement expressly endorsed her in the mayoral race, Bao denied that her campaign had any involvement with it.
“None of it’s true,” Muns said. “It’s disappointing that that’s where we’re at, and people post those kind[s] of things, but they don’t know me. They have no idea. It’s either a political campaign advantage or it’s just people making up things to help their candidate.”