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Is Abbott Counting His Chickens Before They Hatch?

We have all heard the old saying “Don’t count your chickens before the eggs have hatched,” and you have to wonder whether or not that is what Governor Abbott is doing in his war against his own party to impose private school vouchers in Texas. Second only to Trump, Abbott has emerged as the penultimate wager of war against his own party in the nation.

Abbott has a long history of waging war against members of his own party, beginning with the 2018 primary election, when Abbott backed an opponent to then incumbent State Representative Sarah Davis. The unthinkable then became the norm for Abbott in the 2024 primaries. Abbott targeted multiple Republican members of the House who didn’t support his voucher plan during the 87th legislative session — and four subsequent special sessions called by the Governor specifically for the purpose of passing vouchers. 

Abbott managed to pick off many of those members, but his real target was House Speaker Dade Phelan, whom he managed to force into a runoff election.

Tuesday, Phelan narrowly won his runoff election. Reminiscent of Abbott’s premature victory proclamation in October of 2023, during one of his called special sessions, Abbott immediately claimed that he now has the House votes for a voucher program. But some conjecture that Phelan may feel differently.

Despite including school choice (vouchers) in his Interim Charges, there is speculation that Phelan, if he returns as Speaker of the House, may not allow vouchers to advance to or beyond a committee hearing. As to the reason he included vouchers in his Interim Charges, one Austin source inside the Capitol says it may have been to help him win his runoff election. “Abbott’s next move against his own party,” the unnamed source says, “is likely to back someone he can trust to push vouchers to run against Phelan for Speaker.”

Regardless of how many votes the Gov thinks he has, he still has to withstand the general election and a Speaker’s race. There is some thought that the Republicans have spent so much time cannibalizing their own that they have not paid enough attention to the Democrats that will be running against them in November.”

Abbott’s approach to internecine warfare is largely indicative of warfare going on inside of the Republican party writ large, from contention over the House Speaker in Congress to infighting at the Texas Republican State Convention. Former State Representative Glenn Rogers, one of the conservatives Abbott targeted and defeated in the March primaries, warns that the Republican infighting may give an advantage to Democrat opponents in upcoming elections. Whether or not Rogers is right remains to be seen, but we’ll find out in November.

If he is right, Texas may see a shift back to the center and the Governor may be once again counting.

RA Staff
RA Staff
Written by RA News staff.


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