The Chron endorses Beto O’Rourke for Governor by taking Greg Abbott to the woodshed.
Not many years ago, a newly elected Texas governor told cheering supporters, “You voted for hope over fear, for unity over division, for the majesty of what Texas is and what it can be. As Texans, the bonds we share transcend our differences.”
The fact that it’s almost impossible today to imagine Gov. Greg Abbott sincerely repeating the words he uttered on that November night in 2014 reflects what his Democratic challenger calls “the darkness that has descended on Texas.”
None of us who loves this state — its beauty, vastness, and lore, its drive and potential, its diversity of people and sense of place, its swagger and audacity — wants to see it descend into something siloed, cynical and small.
Yet, in the eight years that Abbott has occupied the office of governor, his fellow Texans have watched him transmogrify from a shrewd yet reasonable statesman into a rigid and reflexively ideological politician as he accommodates the Republican Party’s inexorable lurch to the far-right fringes. We have watched him grow more sneeringly dismissive of his political opponents in the Legislature and more domineering in his attempts to dictate the local of affairs of the state’s increasingly blue urban areas. He’s become more beholden to former President Donald Trump’s hopelessly beguiled MAGA faithful.
We’ve watched an erstwhile moderate Republican, a politician in the Reagan-Bush mold (we thought), with an inspiring personal story of overcoming a tragic injury to ascend to the highest office in Texas government, expend more time and energy concocting political stunts and signing on to cultural-issue antagonisms rather than taking seriously the challenges that affect the state as a whole. In conjunction with his GOP cohorts, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and disgraced Attorney General Ken Paxton, Abbott’s disdainful approach to governance has come to epitomize the Ugly Texan. No wonder some of our fellow Americans encourage us to follow through on our absurd threats of secession.
A statewide officeholder since 1996, Abbott is asking Texas voters to keep him in office another four years. The question is, why? What, for the good of Texas, does he hope to accomplish in another term that he hasn’t accomplished in the previous two?
We can think of two reasons why he’s running, both self-serving: One, he’s eager to continue his bow to entrenched political power in this state. He’s happy to serve the deep-well source of his campaign largesse and content to exercise power for power’s sake. Two, he’s positioning himself — like his Florida counterpart — to run for president if Trump doesn’t.
Now that voters have a credible choice in Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke, we implore them to set aside party allegiance and assess the governor on his actual performance. They need to remember shivering, for example, when under Abbott’s watch Winter Storm Uri in 2021 caused more damage to an ill-prepared Texas than any other state. Several hundred of our fellow Texans died; thousands suffered through days without water and power. Businesses were shuttered. In Uri’s aftermath, Abbott did the barest minimum, if that, to ensure energy reliability in the future.
I’ve read through the endorsement twice, and that one mention in the last paragraph above is the only time you see Beto’s name. The rest is a long list of grievances about Abbott’s many sins and transgressions and incompetence and indifference. To be sure, there’s so much to be said along those lines, but I couldn’t help but be struck by the difference between this endorsement and that of Mike Collier, in which at least as much could have been said about Dan Patrick but the Chron chose to focus on Collier instead. Maybe that was a tactical decision – voters needed to know more about Abbott and about Collier in order to get it right, while both Beto and Patrick are sufficiently well-known that their bona fides could be assumed. I think we know by now that the Chron’s operational logic in these matters is unknowable, so I’ll leave the speculating here. Whatever the case, they got it right and they laid out a strong set of reasons. And among those, I will note, is yet another lamentation about a Republican who turned out to be a lot more of a radical partisan and less of a moderate leader who cared about The People than they had hoped. I sure wonder why they keep making that mistake. It’s like they don’t know their own history.
Anyway. The Chron also endorsed four State House candidates, Democratic incumbents Hubert Vo (HD149) and Penny Morales Shaw (HD148), Republican incumbent Dennis Paul (HD129), and Republican candidate Mano DeAyala, who is running for the open HD133. I’ve not been keeping close track of which races they still have to do, but I don’t think they’ve touched the State Senate yet, and there are still some statewide races as well as civil and county courts. They’ll be busy for at least another week, I figure.