Keyword: Ken Paxton

The plot thickens in the GOP race for the 2022 Attorney General Nomination

| By: Jim Henson and Joshua Blank

State Representative Matt Krause’s (R-Ft. Worth) entry into the 2022 primary contest seeking the Republican nomination for Attorney General adds yet another potential obstacle to incumbent AG Ken Paxton efforts to get reelected for a third term amidst an already crowded primary field. See some public opinion context for the race, including job approval numbers for the current AG among Republicans and conservatives. 

Read more...

The Elephant in the Room: Texas Republicans Were Pretty Trumpy Before Trump

| By: Jim Henson and Joshua Blank

After four years of most major Texas Republican elected officials kowtowing to Donald Trump out of a mixture of deference and fear, Texas Republicans now seek paths for moving forward in his turbulent wake. They are in a different position than their national counterparts vis-a-vis Trump’s exit and how the experience of his presidency is to be incorporated into both the party’s identity and Republican elected officials’ political strategies. Trump has left the national party bereft, having lost the White House and presided over the GOP relegation to minority status in both houses of Congress (albeit narrowly in the Senate). But Republicans still reign in Texas, and are in a better position to navigate post-Trump politics than their national counterparts.

The key to understanding Texas Republican political leaders advantage is the fact that many invoked the central elements of Trump’s appeal in their rhetoric and policies long before Trump was a presidential candidate. Texas Republican voters respond positively to these themes, and, based on what years of Texas public opinion data tell us about their attitudes, a good chunk of them can be expected to continue responding to them even if Trump is not the one doing the articulating. 

Read more...

The Second Reading Podcast: A Conversation with the Dallas Morning News' Lauren McGaughy About Vaccinating Texas Legislators and More

| By: Jim Henson

In this week's Second Reading Podcast, Jim Henson talks with investigative reporter Lauren McGaughy about her recent story for the Dallas Morning News unpacking Austin Public Health interim medical director Mark Escott's efforts to offer vaccinations to members of the Texas Legislature and both the origins and aftermath of Escott's efforts. The conversation also turned to Attorney General Ken Paxton's recent political fundraising, which McGaughy wrote about in the latest in a long string of investigative resporting on Paxton across his career, and to pandemic measures limiting press access to the 87th Texas Legisalture.

Read more...

The Texas Context for Attorney General Ken Paxton’s Role in Donald Trump’s Circus

| By: Jim Henson and Joshua Blank

Attorney General Ken Paxton’s motion before the U.S. Supreme Court to dismiss the election results in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Georgia has put Paxton in the center ring of Donald Trump’s never ending circus of efforts to delegitimize the 2020 presidential election in the eyes of his followers. Trump’s motives in his seemingly Quixotic effort to undo the election as always are the subject of intense speculation, no doubt by design. As the national media reward both Trump and Paxton with a flurry of attention, however derisive, over Paxton’s legally dubious and baldly political effort before the court, it’s worth looking at the Texas context of Paxton's turn in the spotlight.

Read more...

Fear and Loathing at the Ballot Box: Texas Data Points for the Week In Politics, September 26, 2020

| By: Jim Henson

The artifice and hyperbole inherent in the Hunter S. Thompson reference notwithstanding, the week's election news elicited genuine fear and sincere loathing. So with emotions high and the stakes for the political system even higher, this week’s post focuses on the escalating political fighting over the rules for the 2020 general election as voting procedures in Texas are being challenged on multiple fronts, and as the President all but promises that he will contest the outcome of the election if he doesn't win. On the same day that Donald Trump refused (the first time, anyway) to commit to accepting the results of the 2020 presidential election, a group of Texas Republicans was asking the Texas Supreme Court to reverse Governor Abbott’s extension of the early voting period. All of this overshadowed the state’s compliance this week with a federal court order requiring Texas to follow the 27-year old “motor voter” law by allowing Texans renewing their driver’s license online to also update their voter registration - a possible beachhead for belatedly bringing online voter registration to the state. As the week ended, the voting plot thickened still more, as the Texas Attorney General tried to highlight a voter fraud case involving absentee ballots in a primary race for county commissioner, and a federal judge sent shivers through the spines of county clerks by blocking the 2019 law ending straight-ticket voting in Texas. And as a backdrop to the swirling political and legal chaos around elections and voting, the Secretary of State announced an increase in registered voters (registration continued through October 5). These are all pieces of an important puzzle picturing the resilience of democracy in the state and the nation. With early voting set to start in Texas in less than three weeks (setting aside the lawsuit for the moment), as a wise observer once said, all the pieces matter. I took a little more time this week to put several of them together.

Read more...

The Second Reading Podcast: Returning to School (Recorded August, 11 2020)

Trump vote by mail rhetoric further poisons already toxic Texas attitudes toward elections

| By: Jim Henson

President Donald Trump’s assertion via Twitter that “Universal Mail-In Voting” will make 2020 “the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT ELECTION in history” was certainly well-received in corners of the Texas Republican Party that Trump needs to mobilize to remain competitive in November. He has Republican allies in state government that have succeeded in blocking the expansion of voting by mail in the courts, and voters who support such efforts: In the June 2020 Texas Politics Project poll, 72% of Texas Republicans opposed allowing all Texans to vote by mail in response to the pandemic; only 21% of Texas Republicans favored it, with only 7% on the fence. But skepticism of elections runs much deeper, and predates Trump's presidency.

Read more...

Data Points from the Week in Texas Politics (July 31, 2020)

| By: Jim Henson and Joshua Blank

Official economic data released Thursday confirmed what millions of Americans and Texans already knew from experience – that giant sucking sound in everyone’s ears is coming from the contraction of the economy. The same day (what a coincidence!), the president’s Tweet about delaying the November election, and the immediate frenzied responses, had a similar sucking effect. By comparison, Governor Greg Abbott’s addition of another week to the early voting period and an ever-so-slight relaxation of the vote-by-mail rules was a gentle whisper in the ear of the electorate (“I care…”). The Attorney General’s message to local health authorities was decidedly less gentle. Meanwhile, the legislature – remember them? – is getting antsy about how to manage the practical matters of what everybody realizes is going to be a miserable, fiscally strapped session in 2021 no matter how many people they have an excuse to keep out of their offices. And, well, Congressman Louis Gohmert. Read on for public opinion data on all this and more.

Read more...

Texas Republicans' Resistance to Mail-In Voting Has Strong Roots in Pre-Pandemic Politics

| By: Jim Henson and Joshua Blank

The thorough politicization of the laws governing the voting process is deeply rooted in attitudes in the electorate among both Republican and Democratic voters. The result is that an opportunity to find common cause at the crossroads of public health and civic aspiration has instead devolved into endless trips to court amidst a dispiriting replay of the long history of turning the franchise into something more akin to extracting back pay from a stingy boss than exercising a constitutional right.

Read more...

A Boxful of Letters: Most Texas Churchgoers Don't Share Attorney General's Complaints About Cities' COVID-19 Containment

| By: Jim Henson and Joshua Blank

A trio of letters sent from the Texas Attorney General’s office to the leaders of three of the state’s major metropolitan areas again raised the public tension between the limits on religious practices contained in public health measures undertaken to contain the spread of coronavirus and the protection of religious liberties. That tension, however, may be more acutely felt by elected officials navigating party politics and personal rivalries than it is by most voters.

Read more...

Pages