AUSTIN, Texas – The temperature and the political rhetoric increased this week, especially in Texas politics. FOX 7 Austin’s Rudy Koski and our panel of analysts take a look at the hot topics that dominated this week.
Read the full transcript of the discussion below:
RUDY KOSKI: Here we are back in the LBJ penthouse talking about this week in Texas politics. And some of the big stories for the week include: Governor Greg Abbott continues to make school part of his reelection campaign by endorsing a voucher program. The political name-calling ramping up in the attorney general’s GOP runoff where Ken Paxton called George Bush a liberal, pushing a woke agenda to redo the Alamo. The governor’s migrant trespassing border strategy had its first courtroom victory in Kinney County. Democrats in Congress triggered an investigation into Governor Greg Abbott and if he illegally used COVID relief money to pay for Operation Lone Star. Governor Abbott pushing back, blasting the Biden administration for sending baby formula to migrant families while store shelves across the nation are empty. And a federal appeals court on Wednesday reinstated a Republican-backed Texas law that prohibits large social media companies from banning use based on political viewpoints.
RUDY KOSKI: So let’s get our headlines now from our panel of analysts and will begin first with Eleanor Dearman, who is with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Eleanor, what is your headline now?
ELEANOR DEARMAN: Runoffs are ramping up in Texas with early voting starting on Monday.
RUDY KOSKI: Greg Groogan with Fox 26 Houston. Greg, what’s your headline for the week?
GREG GROOGAN: No asterisk next to free speech in the Constitution.
RUDY KOSKI: And Brian Smith with St Edward’s University. Brian, what’s your headline for the week?
BRIAN SMITH: With the Legislature Home and DC Gridlocked, the judiciary takes center stage.
RUDY KOSKI: We’ll touch base with this baby formula situation that popped up.
GREG GROOGAN: If Title 42 is yanked by the Biden administration, we’re talking about 50,000 new Texans every week. So, you know, baby formula, failure to patrol on the federal side, effectively the border. It’s just a colossal mess.
BRIAN SMITH: I think the bigger issue is supply chain. And when we think about the baby formula, that specifically is a lose-lose. I think the Republicans will be able to capitalize on supply chain problems going into the fall and they’ll be able to blame the Biden administration for them.
ELEANOR DEARMAN: Baby formula is something that is a necessity in many homes across the state, across the country. So I think certainly supply chain shortage and the economy are issues that are front of mind for many folks.
RUDY KOSKI: Do we move away from the border or is this going to be the issue for the summer? Brian.
BRIAN SMITH: In Texas, the borders are always going to be at the very top with the economy. I don’t think it’s going away any time soon.
GREG GROOGAN: The situation is not getting any better down there in terms of the criticism of Abbott for spending COVID money down there. Well, everybody at every level of government is robbing Peter to pay Paul, and that includes the democratic cities and counties.
ELEANOR DEARMAN: I think crossing the border will be a major issue in a lot of campaigns. I can see that in the runoffs. And I think it certainly is an issue that is brewing, being brought up by candidates as they campaign for office in the state.
RUDY KOSKI: The runoffs really get going next week. But this week, some strong rhetoric coming out in the GOP attorney general’s race. Is that race a window into what’s going to happen next week? Greg?
GREG GROOGAN: Look, I don’t even know if Vegas is even putting odds on George P. Bush winning that runoff. I mean, look, Rich Strike was probably a better bet.
ELEANOR DEARMAN: Ken Paxton, with a Democrat in the general election may be one of the best shots for a Democrat to win a statewide office, but that could be, you know, a potential more competitive race than we’ve seen some of the other statewide races.
BRIAN SMITH: The problem, of course is; a wounded Ken Paxton is still going to be a difficult candidate to beat, no matter how many indictments are hanging over his head.
RUDY KOSKI: The Trump rally is coming to Austin on Saturday. It’s going to be loud, inside and out. So my question is, is that who wins this rally, or political circus, as some may say, is the winning show inside or is the protesting outside?
GREG GROOGAN: Depends on how many folks show up and how loud they want to be. You know, he may be yesterday’s news to some degree. Do people see him as a as the lightning rod he once was?
ELEANOR DEARMAN: I think will have will be able to better address that question after the runoffs in Texas and maybe even as far as the November election.
BRIAN SMITH: I think by coming here in Austin right after we’ve heard about Supreme Court decisions, he’s really poking the bear.
RUDY KOSKI: And with that, let’s wrap up this week in Texas politics with our one word, and we’ll start off with Eleanor. Eleanor, what’s your one word for the week?
ELEANOR DEARMAN: Elections.
RUDY KOSKI: Greg, your word for the weak?
GREG GROOGAN: Constitution.
RUDY KOSKI: Brian your word for the week?
BRIAN SMITH: Alamo.
RUDY KOSKI: And with that, we’re wrapping up another week in Texas politics.