Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) said the state will reject the resettlement of new refugees, becoming the first state known to do so under a recent Trump administration order, the AP reports.
“Deserted by even his staunchest allies, embattled Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen (R) said that he will not seek reelection, the Austin American Statesman reports.
“It was a stunning coda to the long rise and sudden demise of a remarkable Texas politician who, over the course of half his lifetime, went from the youngest member of the House to its speaker before falling victim to his own hubris.”
CNN notes the scandal involved “an audio recording in which he apparently sought help ousting incumbent members of his own party.”
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) warned that Texas will be “hotly contested” in 2020, Politico reports.
He said that while he had confidence his colleague Sen. John Cornyn and President Trump would win the state, both will face a “serious race.”
Said Cruz: “I think the Texas election in 2018 is powerful foreshadowing for what to expect across the country in 2020. The Democrats in Texas increased their turnout more than 100 percent.”
“Twenty-three Texas towns have been struck by a ‘coordinated’ ransomware attack,” CNBC reports.
“Ransomware is a type of malicious software, often delivered via email, that locks up an organization’s systems until a ransom is paid or files are recovered by other means. In many cases, ransomware significantly damages computer hardware and linked machinery and leads to days or weeks with systems offline, which is why it can be so costly to cities.”
Sean Trende: “It seems a stretch, but remember that Mitt Romney won Texas by 16 points, Donald Trump won by nine, and Cruz won by just three. These are not good trendlines for the GOP. States do shift their partisanship quickly at times. George H.W. Bush won New Hampshire by 26 points in 1988 and New Jersey by 14; in 1996 New Jersey went for Clinton by 18 points, while New Hampshire was a 10-point Clinton win. That same year, West Virginia was a 15-point Clinton win; eight years later George W. Bush won it by 13.”
“We might write off 2018 to the bad GOP year and Cruz’s unpopularity. But that requires ignoring some substantial evidence to the contrary. One has to ignore that John McCain won the state by double digits in a 2008 environment that was probably even worse for the GOP than 2018, while John Cornyn won re-election against a hyped Democratic opponent handily.”
“Most importantly, one has to ignore the nature of political coalitions in the Age of Trump. Trump has generally improved GOP fortunes in rural American and in the towns, and in states like Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio, all of which has generally helped the Republican Party. But there is little doubt that the GOP has suffered substantial losses in the suburban areas that once formed the backbone of the party while doing little to advance its cause in the major cities.”
Texas Speaker Dennis Bonnen (R) apologized to his 149 colleagues for “terrible things” he said about some of them, the Dallas Morning News reports.
Said Bonnen: “I said terrible things that are embarrassing to the members, to the House, and to me personally. You know me well enough to know I say things with no filter.”
Direct Action Texas transcribed an audio tape with some of those “terrible things.”
“Republicans have long idealized Texas as a deep-red frontier state, home to rural conservatives who love President Trump. But political turbulence in the sprawling suburbs and fast-growing cities are turning the Lone Star State into a possible 2020 battleground,” the Washington Post reports.
Said Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX): “The president’s reelection campaign needs to take Texas seriously.”
“For a state that once elevated the Bush family and was forged into a Republican stronghold by Karl Rove, it is an increasingly uncertain time. Changing demographics and a wave of liberal activism have given new hope to Democrats, who have not won a statewide elective office since 1994 or Texas’s presidential vote since Jimmy Carter in 1976.”
A new University of Texas poll finds Beto O’Rourke leads the Democratic presidential field in his home state with 27%, followed by Joe Biden at 24%, Bernie Sanders at 15%, Elizabeth Warren at 11%, and Kamala Harris at 9%.
Key takeaway: “Independent Democratic-learners (especially women) are a key to O’Rourke’s success in our poll. When included, these voters expand his lead to 38% among primary voters (with Joe Biden receiving 19% support), though they are also the least likely to be enthusiastic about participating in the March primary (only 19% are “very” or “somewhat” enthusiastic about the race).”
Washington Examiner: “Wealthy Republican donors are preparing a multimillion-dollar effort to register more than 1 million new GOP voters in Texas for 2020 amid anxiety that President Trump could be in more trouble in this reliably red state than some in the party realize.”
Embattled Texas Secretary of State David Whitley (R), who had questioned the U.S. citizenship of nearly 100,000 people, “resigned Monday ahead of being forced out of office, stepping down as Republicans went home to defend their vulnerable majority in 2020 rather than try forcing a late vote to save Gov. Greg Abbott’s nominee (R),” the AP reports.
Washington Post: “Whitley, a gubernatorial appointee and former aide to Abbott, spent less than six months overseeing Texas elections. He will leave office best known for the disastrous elections-integrity operation that wrongly identified thousands of naturalized citizens as suspected noncitizens illegally registered to vote.”
A new Emerson College survey in Texas finds President Trump in a dead heat with potential Democratic challengers Joe Biden and Beto O’Rourke.
Biden leads Trump 50% to 49%, while O’Rourke is tied with Trump at 50% to 50%.
In the Democratic primary race, Biden edges O’Rourke 23% to 22%, with Bernie Sanders at 17%, Pete Buttigieg at 8% and Elizabeth Warren at 7%.
Texas Secretary of State David Whitley (R) “has agreed to halt an investigation into the citizenship status of registered voters in a settlement agreement that will end three lawsuits filed by civil rights groups and naturalized citizens,” the Austin American Statesman reports.
“Under the settlement announced Friday, Whitley will rescind a Jan. 25 advisory that questioned the citizenship status of almost 100,000 registered voters but was determined to be based on flawed data that implicated a significant number of naturalized U.S. citizens who were legally eligible to vote.”
Washington Post: Texas agrees to stop effort to purge voter rolls.
Nate Cohn: “The dream of a ‘Blue Texas’ has captured the imagination of Democrats for nearly a decade, and Beto O’Rourke has come closer than anyone to making a statewide victory a reality.”
“His strengths as a candidate in his narrow loss in a 2018 Senate race against Ted Cruz — by 2.6 percentage points — led his supporters to push him to run for president, and he obliged them Thursday morning.”
“But his performance may have demonstrated something else: Texas is on the doorstep of emerging as a battleground state, and any number of Democrats might stand a chance to compete there in 2020 for the presidency or the Senate.”
“His relatively close loss is promising for the party because he did not take full advantage of the longer-term trends that might put it over the top sooner than later.”
Politico: “Facing a rapidly changing voter base, anti-Trump fervor and a more motivated Democratic Party, the state GOP is moving earlier than ever to prepare after watching two House members lose in 2018 and another half-dozen win by fewer than 5 points.”
“The party has set new fundraising goals and placed field staffers in Dallas and Fort Worth nine months earlier than in the last election cycle to facilitate more engagement with voters, with plans to expand the early hiring to other major metro areas to stanch bleeding Republican support in the suburbs.”
“Texas is no longer, I believe, a reliably red state. We are on the precipice of turning purple.”
— Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), on the Hugh Hewitt Show.
Texas state Rep. Ron Reynolds (D) “won re-election Tuesday and should be back on the job in a few months, with good behavior,” USA Today reports.
“Reynolds, who ran unopposed, is currently serving a yearlong sentence in the Montgomery County Jail for a 2015 misdemeanor conviction for illegally soliciting clients for his law practice from a chiropractic firm.”
Houston Chronicle: “Thousands of people were already camped out at a key early voting location in Houston on Monday morning, hours before voting was even set to begin.”
“Nearly 2,000 people stood in line outside of the Metropolitan Multi-Service Center on West Gray near River Oaks in a scene that looked more like a Black Friday shopping morning.”
“Voters elected political newcomer Pete Flores (R) to the Texas Senate on Tuesday, flipping a Democratic district red for the first time in 139 years and bolstering Republicans’ supermajority in the chamber ahead of the November elections,” the San Antonio Express-News reports.
Texas Tribune: “Flores’ victory grows the Senate GOP majority to 21 members, an important figure as the caucus enters the November elections looking to protect its supermajority with as many as three of its seats in play. Currently Republicans need a three-fifths majority — 19 members — to bring legislation to the floor without Democratic support.”