Keyword: Greg Abbott
Comparatively higher levels of support among liberals for a constitutional convention might well reinforce conservative impulses to defend the status quo — the threat of liberal change could outweigh the promise of changes justified in the call.
Amended Endorsements & Endorsed Amendments: Texas Data Points from the Week in Politics – September 16, 2016
In a week that found Governor Abbott a little more committed to Donald Trump, the legislature continued to hold hearings that provide glimpses at possible agenda items as the universe around the state capitol comes to terms with the fact that Legislature will be back in session in less than four months. Two issues were on display this week that defy conventional coalition politics – a familiar one of finding a way to subsidize private schools with public funds, and the more esoteric subject of holding a Constitutional Convention to consider changes to the U.S. Constitution. Ted Cruz also made his way back into the news this week by being nice to some of his GOP colleagues and being not so nice to the Obama Administration. A new statewide poll grabbed headlines by finding Trump leading Clinton in the first major poll to switch over to focusing on likely voters.
Donald Trump visits Austin Tuesday for a fundraising event hosted by Lt. Governor Dan Patrick and a public rally in the Luedecke Arena at the Travis County Expo Center. Trump’s pending visit elicited a range of responses upon its announcement, from Democratic claims that Trump’s unlikely visit to Texas is a sign of weakness to Republican efforts to both laud the visit as an honor even as many GOP leaders dodge an appearance with Trump. Aside from Austin being an unlikely landing place for Trump -- the city isn't that weird, after all -- Trump's visit and the response of political class, especially among Republicans, illustrates just how mixed Trump's reception has been in Texas, where Trump finished behind favorite son Ted Cruz in the March primary. This isn’t to say that Texas is about to turn you-know-what-color in 2016 -- the combination of patterns of party identification and Republican antipathy to Hillary Clinton can be counted on the carry the day for Trump in the absence of a serious Trump meltdown. But conservatives and Republicans in Texas clearly have reservations about Trump that are evident in multiple results in the June 2016 University of Texas/Texas Politics Project Poll.
Trump’s candidacy has cut across the right–far ideological presentation of the Tea Party brand that has helped define acolytes in Texas and frame the internecine fights in the Texas GOP as a battle for the mantle of “true conservative.”
The week started with a public memorial service for the police officers killed and injured in Dallas, which included President Obama visiting the state and former President and Texas Governor George W. Bush making a rare public speaking appearance. The news media channeled troubled thoughts about the deep structural politics of last week’s events as the usual partisan politics were largely muted early in the week. There were, of course, exceptions, including a prominent one who holds statewide office here.
In addition to its focus on Texans’ views of the presidential election, the University of Texas / Texas Politics Project Poll asked for assessments of the state’s exclusively Republican leadership. Given the Republican Party’s dominance of state government and all statewide offices, the most meaningful competition has increasingly occurred among these leaders, leading to some inevitable degree of comparison.
The Democratic Presidential Nominating contest is over; Donald Trump is less offensive to people when he reads what he's going to say; Rick Perry won't be Trump's running mate but he still wants to be in his administration; and Ken Paxton tries his best to do Gov. Abbott a solid over Trump University, but only makes him look more suspicious by association.
The state’s political leadership moved this week to publicly acknowledge what reporters at some of the major dailies have been saying for weeks now: the use of emergency leave as severance pay by another name (mostly) is a thing, and not a good one. Depending on your perspective, Speaker Straus either sent up a trial balloon or invested a little political capital in an agenda setting move as the 85th Legislature looms a little closer on the horizon. Speaking of trial balloons, Hillary Clinton launched a big blue one in a reference to competing in Texas in a very good long read profile in New York Magazine, triggering a renewed discussion of her prospects in the land of Hill & Bill’s McGovernite youth as well renewed attention the headaches and heartburn Donald Trump’s approach to Hispanic outreach is causing in the GOP. Conservative opinion leader Bill Kristol’s search for a conservative alternative to Trump in the presidential has apparently led him to one David French. Sadly, there was another shooting on a college campus, which resonated, if probably only briefly, with the ongoing movement in Texas toward the August 1 implementation of campus carry policies on Texas campuses.
The Obama administration has jumped into the fight over how LGBT rights should be applied to bathrooms in public schools, which will no doubt enter the discussion at the State GOP convention and be a matter for the Lt. Governor to engage in a high profile way. In other less attention-grabbing news, Iran is testing missiles and the courts won't force the Texas Legislature to revamp the manner in which Texas schools are funded.
While there was plenty going in Texas politics this week, it’s all secondary to Donald Trump taking the wheel of the national Republican Party while the kids fight in the back seat. Ted Cruz had a bigger taste of the presidential race than almost anyone expected, and is likely to come back to Texas, on balance, an enhanced political figure in his party. He’ll look even better if the Trump candidacy is a disaster for the GOP, though it would have to be some kind of meltdown for Trump to make Hillary Clinton a real contender in Texas. Not all Republicans will be on board, though the Governor and Lt. Governor ripped the Band Aid off quickly and endorsed Trump. Others Republicans have chosen to pick at those scabs.