THU brief 8.11.22
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TEXAS HOUSE DEMOCRATS held a press conference to announce several proposed “ethics reforms.” It was a reminder of why they’re not a credible opposition force.
Bless their hearts.
The event was billed in response to a recent CNN report about two Texas donors. That poorly executed hit piece by CNN has been discussed; the TL;DR version is that people with money spend it how they like. When this money is spent on things the emotionally fragile hate, it upsets them.
All political factions have organizations that pursue their factional interests. Texas conservatives are no different (although thank you, CNN, for the signal boost).
From the Texas Democrats’ perspective, however, the primary mistake is elevating the so-called “West Texas crowd” in the first place. It’s emblematic of their (utter, total, and complete) lack of strategic discernment.
Greg Abbott loathes the so-called “West Texas crowd” far more than the Democrats ever could. Abbott’s entire political operation is based on giving them the bare minimum without endangering his standing among the GOP primary electorate.
By elevating the so-called “West Texas crowd,” Democrats make it more difficult for Abbott to run that playbook. In amplifying the impression that a sinister right-wing cabal controls Texas, they’re forcing the incumbent Republican governor to cater to said cabal’s whims. Intentionally or not, Democrats are giving conservatives leverage over Abbott that might not otherwise exist.
Beyond strategic myopia, however, the Democrat’s lack of self-awareness is astonishing.
Democrats spent hundreds of millions in 2020.
Whatever your opinion about the sinister right-wing cabal allegedly running Texas, Democrats outspent them by several orders of magnitude in the most recent election cycle.
Just because the Democrats lost doesn’t change the fact that they spent the money.
Texas Democrats’ record of lavishly resourced failure is rivaled only by the Dallas Cowboys.
Democrats helped kill ethics reform two times.
In both 2015 and 2017, Abbott formally designated Ethics reform as an area on which he wanted the legislature to work. Both times, it passed the Texas Senate. Both times, it died in the house.
Without re-litigating the Straus era, Democrats were a key part of the coalition that kept him in power.
The so-called “West Texas crowd” did more to take down a corrupt Republican speaker than the alleged “opposition party” ever did.
As for the specific proposal, it’s a mishmash. Ironically, the so-called “West Texas crowd” is more likely to support some of their suggestions than any speaker candidate Democrats are likely to support.
For example, groups aligned with and connected to Tim Dunn have long supported a cooling-off period before ex-legislators can become lobbyists. Donna Howard apparently supports something similar. It’s doubtful the same can be said about Dade Phelan.
Also, Erin Zweiner’s proposed campaign contribution limits would hurt Democrat DA’s in Travis and Harris counties more than anyone else.
The phrase “not ready for prime time,” admittedly a relic of the network television era, continues to describe Texas Democrats accurately.
GREG ABBOTT and BOBBY FRANCIS O’ROURKE will continue the longstanding Texas tradition of holding campaign debates on Friday night, cross-programmed against high school football.
[Note for out-of-state readers and trigger warning for some: Large segments of this state have an unhealthy, cult-like fixation on high school football.]
The debate is unlikely to move the needle, which favors the incumbent.
One note of caution: The unscripted format could backfire against either candidate. O’Rourke is notoriously gaffe-prone while Abbott has been caught flat-footed on many occasions.
TPPF teased an upcoming initiative against the Mexican government during an event on Tuesday night in Austin.
The TL;DR version: It’s time to stop thinking of the Mexican government as “partners” and to start thinking of them as “hostile actors.”
Expect a formal announcement in early fall.
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