Has Texas Gov Abbott gone too conservative?

Ash Jurberg

Greg Abbott seems to be "filling out a ‘bingo card’ of rightwing policy desires."

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I love Texas. And when talking to out-of-state friends, defend Texas as much as I can, but lately, I have been getting comments about Governor Greg Abbott that poses questions. Such is Abbott trying to make Texas too conservative? Is he pushing Texas to the extreme, right? The new SB8 law that came into effect this week is one law that is angering the liberals.

Recently I saw an article in the New York Times with the headline: In Texas, Top Two Republicans Steer Ship of State Hard to the Right, arguing that Governor Abbott, in conjunction with Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, are full steam ahead in pushing an "uncompromising conservative agenda."

Some Republican senators agree.

“The lieutenant governor reads off the playbook of the far-right, and that’s where we go. The governor less so, but not much less so.” State Senator Kel Seliger, Republican from Amarillo

Today Texas Gov Abbott, alongside Senator Bryan Hughes and Representative Andrew Murr, signed in Senate Bill 1, also known as the election integrity bill. This has already been challenged by the Democrats.

Is it true- is Abbott pushing the conservative agenda in Texas too far?

Following in Trump's footsteps

It seems that since former President Donald Trump left office that Abbott has become even more conservative. Is he trying to fill the void left by Trump and appeal to his fan base looking for a new leader?

As we know, Abbott is running for a third term as Texas Governor in 2022 and, for the first time, is facing real opposition from within his own party. Former congressman and chairman of the Texas Republican Party Allen West and former state senator Don Huffines are both outspoken critics of Abbott.

Will these moves appease the far-right and conservative Texans and sway them away from West and Huffines? It seems that could be the strategy.

These are issues that the grassroots and the Republican Party have been working on and filing bills on for 10 years. Abbott didn’t care until he got opponents in the Republican primary.” Jonathan Stickland, a conservative Republican

Abbott didn't care until he got an opponent in the Republican primary. That's a very telling piece of criticism from Stickland- effectively accusing Abbott of putting his goal of election ahead of what may be best for the state of Texas.

The push for a more conservative Agenda

A quick look at the reforms that Abbott is making shows the push to an even more conservative Texas.

  • In May, Abbott signed into law one of the United States' most restrictive abortion measures. It bans abortion after six weeks of pregnancy.
  • A push to drop most handgun licensing requirements, a move that Abbott himself called "the strongest Second Amendment legislation in Texas history.
  • A "critical race theory” bill prescribing how teachers discuss current events and prohibits students from receiving credit for participating in civic activities.
  • Restricting transition-related medical care for transgender children
  • And, of course, the current major issue being proposed at the Special Session around voting measures.

It all adds to a push to a more conservative leading state. But is it all Abbott's doing? According to the former speaker of the Texas House, Joe Straus, it may be Patrick pushing the agenda.

The lieutenant governor is riding very high in the Texas Senate and he has regular appearances on Fox and I think he is running pretty freely right now. He is very influential in setting the agenda at the moment.”

In an article in the Guardian, the reporter accused Abbott of "filling out a ‘bingo card’ of rightwing policy desires" Much of those 'bingo' squares are unpopular with Texans.

We’re really seeing a race of who can throw Texans under the bus in the fastest and most cruel way, simply to score political points and to remain in power,” Juan Benitez, the communications director for Workers Defense Action Fund.

Will Abbott's move backfire and turn Texas blue?

There has been a shift over recent years in Texas that has led some to believe the state may turn blue in the near future. As a result, Abbott's strategy of appealing strictly to the conservatives could backfire.

But Abbott does have a big war chest of funds - over $55m and a higher approval rating in Texas than Senator Ted Cruz, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, or any potential governor challenger. ,

I don’t think of him in terms of moderate or conservative. I just see him as someone who you can expect to adopt, you know, the consensus worldview, or the predominant –the dominant – worldview of the Republican party at any given time,” Jason Lee, strategist for Texas Right to Vote.

Juan Benitz certainly believes Abbott is playing the political game, saying it was “political theater to build up to 2022 (and) see who can run farthest to the right”.

Readers, what do you think? Do you agree with Abbott's conservative agenda, or do you believe it is just a political move aimed at winning the 2022 election?

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