GOP members lived a six-day-long Republican convention, where amidst boastful cheers for Biden’s poor approval ratings, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick warned them that if they continue with their internal feuds, Democratic candidate for Governor Beto O’Rourke could take Abbott’s seat next election.
Current conservative Gov. Greg Abbott has not had the smooth sailing he and his party would have hoped for en route to his wished reelection: he has been greatly criticized for his handling of the pandemic, several legislative issues, and the mass shooting that happened in Uvalde.
Abbott has had a slow fall of grace among its members as well, with the newly elected chair of the party Matt Rinaldi endorsing Senator Don Huffines over Abbott, before taking a more neutral stance. The Governor skipped the convention altogether, for the first time during his two turns in office.
“We’re tired of having to hold our nose to vote for people who don’t do what we want,” Huffines said, when asked about whether he’d be voting for Abbott in the next elections.
Despite him winning his primary with 66% of the votes, these slip-ups throughout his time as governor have made many start to support the alternative, Democrat Beto O’Rourke. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick warned attendants at the Republican convention that “We cannot take November for granted in Texas,” he said.
It is also clear that the conservative party leaves no room for second-guessing, especially when talking about the Second Amendment, which is causing rifts between them that Patrick fears could be the Democrats’ opportunity to take the upper hand.
U.S. Senator John Cornyn was booed at the convention, despite his attempts to express that he didn’t want to remove anyone’s rights regarding the Second Amendment and gun ownership. He was not welcome after stating that he felt sorry for the victims and that they do need to take some action so no dangerous people can get hands-on guns. Hostility comes from him negotiating for the Republicans on the possibility of a new gun bill, a threat to radical GOP members.
In comparison, Senator Ted Cruz’s speech, who has refused to step down his obsessive discourse about gun ownership despite the situation in Uvalde, granted him cheers and applause from the crowd. It is clear that Republicans are at a tight spot and those in power are trying with all their might to keep their people’s support.
This is why Patrick warned the 80,000 people at the convention to try and leave their personal feuds aside and not take Texas for granted, since O’Rourke could take the seat in November if they don’t prevent it.
“If he were to win, every statewide Republican would lose,” Patrick warned the crowd. “Every (Texas) Supreme Court justice would lose.”
His fear is not unprecedented. When O’Rourke came close to defeating Ted Cruz in 2018, with just a 3% difference, almost all statewide Republicans had the closest re-election of their career, even against Democrats with little public recognition.
Re-elections from big figures like Daniel Patrick, Attorney General Ken Paxton, and Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller all had close reelections in 2018 when four years earlier they had won with more than 60%.
Despite grand wins for the red party like the election of Latina Mayra Flores in a historically Democrat-dominated spot, the inner fights within the community could allow cracks for the blue party to regain terrain.
O’Rourke has continued a campaign fighting for diversity rights, abortion access, marihuana legalization, and gun regulation, still very touchy subjects for a conservative state like Texas, yet it seems like there is no better time to continue to fight for these changes as more people support them.