Keyword: Greg Abbott
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.
As this particular case unfolds, one has to wonder: In a nationalized election year in which the Democratic nominee is (still) likely to be a woman, and in which the Republican nominee (whomever he may be) will likely have to at least attempt to deflect if not overcome the "war on women" charge, could the war on Planned Parenthood become the lightning rod that voter identification laws became between 2010 and 2012 for Democrats?
Oil may be struggling to stay above $30 a barrel, but the Comptroller made multiple public appearances this week urging the political and business communities not to worry. We’ll see how that looks in January 2017. Speaking of not worrying, the Dallas City council is floating the idea of moving to a cite-and-release approach to possession of less than four (!) ounces of marijuana. Lest you think Texas is going completely in the direction of personal freedom, the Attorney General cried foul over fantasy sports betting, reminding everyone that key sectors of the Republican base are still very uptight about gambling...
Texas voters may not be currently clamoring for ever fewer restrictions on gun rights, but the political leadership is determined to deliver them anyway.
The holidays were definitely over this week with the primary contests heating up and President Obama making a big push on gun safety and earning a swift, even preemptive responses from Republicans in Washington and Texas. Speaking of Washington Republicans in Texas, Marco Rubio made his first campaign visit to Texas this week in an effort to break into the top tier here. The DPS officer who pulled over and arrested Sandra Bland, who later died in custody in Waller County, is out of the job and in legal trouble, while federal law enforcement officials are taking a MUCH more measured approach to the constitutionalist occupation of a building on national park land in Colorado – perhaps following a little-noticed Texas precedent. As we were gathering material for this post, Greg Abbott called for a Constitutional Convention – U.S., not state, so if you’re a Texas legislator, it’s ok – and 9 new amendments broadly aimed at reasserting state authority vis-a-vis the federal government and putting new checks on the U.S. Supreme Court. He seems sort of fed up! To borrow a phrase.
While a more comprehensive analysis of the 2016 nominating race awaits the public release of the data and crosstabs from the November 2015 University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll next week, the weekend pause in the Texas Tribune release schedule invites a few initial observations on the first wave of results.
Halloween is upon us, but it's already been a scary week for Jeb Bush and homeowners thinking about their property tax bills – but Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump are trying their best to calm everyone down. Calm by nature, Dr. Ben Carson started the week off early causing a stir with his proclamation that he's against abortion in cases of rape and incest, while two of Texas politics' more animated politicians – Dan Patrick and Ted Cruz – essentially endorsed each other. Both Patrick and Governor Abbott also endorsed the legislature preventing so-called sanctuary cities in Texas, but not enough to require legislators to haunt Austin in a special session. Finally, President Obama followed the lead of Texas in pressing for a reduction in standardized testing – a treat for kids and their parents, who increasingly told pollsters they find frequent high stakes testing pretty ghastly.
Dan Patrick’s endorsement of Ted Cruz had all the trappings of business as usual, in which a statewide official pledges fealty to a national candidate who is both an ideological fellow traveller and a big cog in the same political party machinery. Not surprisingly, the event and the media coverage of it provided sound bites of earnestness mated with deep camp: Cruz portrayed Patrick as a conservative warrior willing to crawl “through broken glass with a knife between his teeth”; Patrick described endorsing Cruz as “probably the biggest honor in my life.” I think I have a casting idea for the central buddies of True Detective season 3.