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The number of people across the state’s border with Mexico is on the minds of every politician seeking a position in the state this year. If this surprises you, you must be new here.
The ads of Don Huffines in the Dallas Cowboys first game in 2022 (he is running for governor), US Senator Ted Cruz’s suggestion that President Joe Biden’s lack of action on immigration might be a reason for impeachment (Cruz is not on the ballot, but has a podcast) and the writings of Beto O’Rourke on the injustices associated with sending National Guard troops to the border during the holidays ( he also presents himself as governor) are the first signs of what is happening on this front.
And don’t forget the other big talking point of this election, one foreshadowed by the rapid north that plunged thermometer readings across much of the state last weekend.
He got dramatic additional potential from Gov. Greg Abbott’s unsubstantiated guarantee that the state won’t get another round of freezing blackouts.
Then there’s the special moment of this year’s election: early voting in the party primaries begins on the anniversary of the widespread blackouts during a polar vortex a year ago.
The weather will probably turn cold. Maybe it will be cold-cold, like last year. And the lights will probably stay on; after all, what happened last year only happens two or three times a decade in Texas.
There is no certainty that last year’s experience will be repeated in a way that upsets the election. The border, however, is another matter. It is high on the list of concerns of voters, especially Republicans, who have elected all of Texas state officials since 1994. It is a perennial issue of political anxiety, recurring for decades to come. ‘elections.
With a Democrat in the White House, Texas Republicans in power have several reasons to play the game. The number of people crowding the border to enter the United States reached historic highs last year. Among Republican voters in Texas, immigration and border security consistently top the list of “most important issues” facing the state; in the University of Texas / Texas Tribune’s October poll, 68% of those voters had these issues in mind. He barely registered with the Democrats; only 2% put these issues at the top of their lists.
These Republican voters seem eager to blame President Joe Biden, turning a normal Texas concern into a powerful partisan issue in this election year.
That same October UT / TT poll found that 22% of Texans approved of his handling of border security and immigration, while 63% disapproved of his performance on that front. Abbott’s ratings were better: 46% approve of his handling of these issues, while 43% do not. Among Republican voters, 79% said they liked what the governor was doing.
Even with that, Abbott’s conservative challengers like Huffines, a former Dallas state senator, criticize the governor’s efforts to seal the border.
“When I am your Republican governor, Texas will stop the illegal invasion on our border. And I’m not asking the federal government for permission, ”Huffines said in one of his TV commercials.
Cruz singled out immigration when he spoke in his “Verdict with Ted Cruz” podcast about the chances that Republicans – if they win a majority in Congress – will try to impeach Biden.
“I think there is a chance that it is justified or not … I think there are potentially several reasons to consider for impeachment. Perhaps most compelling is the utter anarchy of President Biden’s refusal to enforce the border. His decision to simply defy federal immigration laws, ”Cruz said in his podcast.
Abbott and the legislature responded by setting up $ 3 billion in public funds to build barriers and send state police and National Guard troops to the border. Huffins thinks that’s not enough. O’Rourke, writing in the Houston Chronicle, accused Abbott of using Texas National Guard troops as political pawns.
The governor’s public relations efforts to minimize political exposure to power grid issues will pay off – if the weather cooperates and the lights stay on.
No matter what happens on that front over the next few weeks, the border will remain an issue. The importance of this first subject in the elections is a possibility. The second is a certainty.
Disclosure: The University of Texas at Austin has financially supported The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, non-partisan news organization funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial support plays no role in the journalism of the Tribune. Find a full list of them here.