Dem 50
image description
GOP 50
image description
New polls:  
Dem pickups vs. 2020: (None)
GOP pickups vs. 2020 : (None)
Political Wire logo Afghans Appear Psychologically Defeated
House Moderates Demand Vote on Infrastructure Bill
Russia Making New Efforts to Interfere In 2022 Elections
Texas Law Enforcement Sent to Arrest House Democrats
Biden Comes to Newsom’s Defense Ahead of Recall
Caitlyn Jenner Avoids Talk of Book, TV Deals

The Reconciliation Bill Is Not Home Free Yet

Yesterday, the Senate passed a budget resolution directing various committees to come up with spending and taxing plans that can be included in a formal bill to be passed next month using the budget reconciliation procedure. The resolution is a $3.5-trillion framework to expand the social safety net and much more, but already it has exposed cracks within the Democratic Senate caucus. In particular, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) said it was too expensive and would fan inflation. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) seconded that thought. In principle, if the reconciliation bill is fully funded, that shouldn't happen, but Manchin and Sinema may be worried that the Democrats will try to use smoke and mirrors to fund it. In that case, it wouldn't actually be fully funded and so certainly could cause inflation.

Joe Biden immediately addressed the senators' concerns. He said that a vote against the plan is a vote against lowering the cost of health care, housing, child care, elder care, and prescription drugs. It is possible that when the sausage is finally made next month, it might end up a bit smaller and the two senators will get a bit more pork, but if the two kill the plan, they will become absolute pariahs within the caucus. There is not much the other senators can do to Manchin since no other Democrat could win a Senate seat in West Virginia, but several other Democrats could win a Senate primary and seat in Arizona. Sinema surely knows that.

Of course, all this talk about how much to spend on soft infrastructure could just be posturing, so the senators can show the folks back home that they are really moderates and not in thrall to the left. But if they are really serious about gutting the final bill, progressives will fight back and the result could be that nothing except the bipartisan bill becomes law. Except that won't happen, because yesterday Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) announced that she won't hold a vote on the bipartisan bill until the reconciliation process has played out in the Senate. Expect a lot more feinting and several more "announcements" like this before it is all over.

That may not take too long, though. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) talked yesterday with the committee chairs whose job it will be to write the actual spending plans contained in the framework. He told them that he wanted the final reconciliation bill to be ready for a vote on Sept. 15. These things have a way of slipping, but a bill is likely to be ready sometime in September for a crucial vote. Schumer also said that he wants a vote on H.R. 1 in September.

Meanwhile, the 212 Republicans in the House and the 50 Republicans in the Senate can sit back and relax for the next 6 weeks. Since their votes are not available, and are not needed for passage of either the reconciliation bill or the bipartisan bill (already approved in the Senate, and only needs a majority in the House), then their feedback will not be needed or asked for, thank you very much. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) will have regular press conferences in which he laments the "reckless" spending of the Democrats, and maybe slams them as socialists, but that will take 20 minutes, and then he can spend the rest of the day eating bean soup in the congressional cafeteria, or trying on tortoiseshell glasses, or bathing in the Lazarus Pit, or whatever it is he does when he's got free time. Other Republicans will go to town on social media—unless, of course, their accounts are suspended, like Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene's (R-GA) and Sen. Rand Paul's (R-KY) currently are. But that's about all they've got until it's time to get serious about the debt ceiling and next year's budget. (V)

Judge Orders Trump's Accountants to Give Congress His Tax Returns

There are so many moving parts to the Trump tax-return saga that it is hard to keep track of them. Judge Trevor McFadden just ruled that the IRS doesn't have to give House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA) Donald Trump's tax returns until after he hears the case on Nov. 8. Yesterday, a different federal judge, Amit Mehta, ruled that Trump's accountants must obey a subpoena from House Oversight Committee Chair Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and turn over his returns for 2017 and 2018, but not earlier years. Both sides are likely to appeal (Trump: "No!"; Maloney: "We want more!"), delaying this case, as well.

Mehta said that the subpoena didn't make it clear why the members of Congress need so many years. He said the subpoena was invasive and threatened the separation of powers. However, he agreed that they needed the returns for years Trump was president so they could see if he violated the Constitution's emoluments clause and could possibly write new legislation dealing with that in the future. But earlier years weren't needed for that, in the judge's view—a conclusion of questionable merit, since proof of being in hock to the Russians would be very important, and might or might not show up in recent returns. Mehta also wrote that by not divesting himself of his hotel before taking office, Trump set himself up for this kind of investigation. So it looks like this case isn't going to move much faster than the one McFadden is overseeing. (V)

Dominion Sues the Rest of Them

Dominion Voting Systems already sued Fox News, Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell, and Pillowman over their lies that Dominion voting machines were rigged for Joe Biden. But the firm's lawyers weren't finished. Now they have also sued One America News Network and Newsmax for saying the same thing. While they were at it, they also sued Patrick Byrne, the former CEO of Dominion is seeking $1.6 billion in damages from each defendant, citing lost profits and harm to its reputation.

OANN didn't comment, but Newsmax said that the suits represented an attempt to suppress free speech. In addition to skipping Journalism 101, they seem to have ditched their Civics 101 lectures, as well. The First Amendment, of course, says only that Congress can't abridge the freedom of speech. It doesn't say anything about private lawsuits between nongovernmental organizations. In addition, the First Amendment notwithstanding, there are laws about libel, slander, defamation and the like. Ultimately, all the cases will come down to whether the organizations and people sue lied, knew they were lying (or should have known), and did it anyway. The fact that both OANN and Newsmax have already scrubbed potentially defamatory content about Dominion from their websites suggests that they know the First Amendment isn't really going to protect them here.

Dominion has a good chance of winning at in the initial trial. An interesting question is how much money they could collect if they win and the decision isn't thrown out on appeal. Fox News is a big enough company that it could probably survive paying $1 billion if it comes to that. OANN and Newsmax might go under if they had to pay anything close to that amount. None of the individuals named in the suits are billionaires. If the judgments of even $100 million were upheld against them, they would all be forced into bankruptcy. Are Dominion's lawyers really that nasty? We wouldn't bet against it given that the defendants tried to ruin Dominion. And indeed, whatever money the defendants do have (excepting Fox) probably isn't enough to make Dominion whole, since they might plausibly have lost hundreds of millions of dollars in business. So their best outcome might well be a giant, headline-generating verdict, even if it's one that's never going to be paid off. (V)

Biden Could Be the Democrats' Last Chance At Winning Back Noncollege White Voters

Going forward, the Democrats have two potential routes to winning the White House (and to some extent, Congress): the northern route and the southern route. The northern route goes through Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. The southern route goes through Arizona, Texas, Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina. Each has its own issues and complications.

The northern route requires winning noncollege, working-class white voters, especially men. A lot of them see the Democrats as the party of minority voters and social justice warriors, and feel it has abandoned them. Many are culturally conservative, racist, or both. They fit OK in the party of FDR but not so well in the modern Democratic Party.

The southern route requires getting large numbers of minority voters, young people, and single women to the polls. Many of these folks are marginal voters. Most of them favor the Democrats, but favoring the Democrats and then not voting doesn't help the blue team at all. In addition, many of the Republicans in the state legislatures of these states know that a lot of Democratic voters are pretty marginal and if voting can be made difficult, they won't bother. This cartoon from David Horsey is as valid now as it was when he drew it in 2014:

Cartoon with Republican voter and Democratic voter;
the Republican looks like a fanatic and says he will walk on hot coals and do other sorts of things like that to vote, while the Democrat looks bored,
complains that already it's time to vote again, and wonders if voting can be done on Facebook.

If the Democrats are unable to pass H.R. 1 (because they don't have 50 votes to change the filibuster), the southern route may be tough (due to the new voting laws) so they may have to follow the northern route.

So, how promising is that long term? CNN's Ronald Brownstein has an interesting piece on that subject. Basically, he says the Democrats have one more shot at winning back the blue-collar workers in the North. It's now or never for them because the next generation of Democratic leaders, like Kamala Harris and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), aren't going to be able to pull it off. And the way to win back the blue-collar men is through their wallets. If Joe Biden—an old, religious, white guy—comes through on kitchen-table issues, like jobs, wages, and unions, enough of them may decide that having a good job (economic win!) and having legal abortion (culture wars loss!) is a better combination for them personally than no job (economic loss!) and illegal abortions (culture wars win!). In other words, it's the economy, stupid.

The cultural issues are so strong that Biden has no chance to win back majorities of blue-collar workers in the northern-route states, but the elections there are tight enough that picking up another 5% permanently could be the difference between always winning and always losing. Biden won 32% of white noncollege voters in 2020, compared to the 29% Hillary Clinton got in 2016. If he can get that to 35% and make it stick, that would be huge. He understands that very well and is doing his best. That is why he is focusing on infrastructure above all else: It will create millions of blue-collar jobs. He could have focused on the environment or guns or racial justice or so many other things, but didn't because he knows none of these will matter a whit with blue-collar workers in the Rust Belt (and some might actively drive them away from the Democrats).

From the 1930s to the 1960s, these voters were the bedrock of the Democratic Party. Suburbanites were mostly Republicans (due to tax issues) and Black voters were Republicans (because Lincoln freed the slaves and the slaveowners were Democrats). That all changed due to issues relating to race. When Lyndon Johnson signed the 1964 Civil Rights Act, he allegedly said: "We have lost the South for a generation." Whether he actually said it is a matter of some dispute, but idea is certainly true. The Democrats' decision to support civil rights for Black citizens not only caused the loss of the once-solid South, but also the loss of blue-collar workers in the North. Biden knows he can't make bigotry vanish, but he can try to win back these voters based on their pure self interest, even if their hearts aren't into it.

A factor that is important here is that blue-collar workers are overrepresented in the northern-route states. This makes an economic appeal there more potent than it is in the South. If Biden fails, the forces in the Democratic Party that want to push it to the left and focus on racial justice and environmental issues will say: "We told you so" and give up on winning more blue-collar voters. The push will then be getting young people and people of color to vote. So the future direction of the Democratic Party rests on the President's shoulders.

Biden understands all of this. He frequently calls his agenda a "blue-collar blueprint to build America." The $3.5-trillion reconciliation bill now in the works showers economic benefits on working-class voters, including increased subsides for health insurance, paid family leave, expanded Medicare benefits, universal preschool, and 2 years of free community college. Suppose that passes and all the benefits kick in. People will get used to them. Then in 2024, the Republican nominee campaigns on eliminating them all to reduce the federal debt. Good luck with that. Biden knows that once some new benefit is in place, Republicans will rail against it, but when they are in power they will never actually vote to repeal it. Republicans have railed against Social Security and Medicare for decades, but when they are in power, they don't dare touch them. Biden's gamble is that once the benefits are there, blue-collar voters won't like to hear Republicans threatening to take them away (even if the voters don't realize they won't actually do it even if they get the chance). Remember how the Republicans said they would replace "Obamacare" with something much better, but when they controlled the whole government, never even wrote a bill to vote on?

Brownstein's piece goes into more detail on this issue, but his core idea is that if the Democrats want to pin their hopes on noncollege white voters in the Rust Belt (especially those who are not evangelical), Biden is their last, best hope. (V)

Redistricting in the Big Southern States May Help the Republicans to a House Majority

Larry Sabato's Crystal Ball is running a series on redistricting. Part 1 looked at the national picture. Part 2 examined the small, deep-red states in the South and Appalachia. Part 3, the current installment. is about the four big Southern States that may determine which party controls the House for a decade starting in Jan. 2023. Here is a summary by state of the Ball's analysis.

To start with, Texas, Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina currently have 90 of the 435 seats in the House. Republicans hold 55 (61.1%) of them. That is far better than the GOP's share of the two-party vote in 2020, where Donald Trump won only 51.6%. Texas will get two more seats and Florida and North Carolina will each get one more, giving the four states 94/435 or more than one fifth of the total number of House seats. Georgia is the only one of the quartet that won't get any more seats. Now, let's look at each one separately.

  • Florida: Currently the partisan breakdown is 16R, 11D, which is actually slightly worse for the Republicans than the 17R, 10D that it was after the 2014 elections. Since the Republicans control the trifecta, they are going to squeeze the map until orange juice comes out of it. The Republicans also control the state Supreme Court. That matters because in 2010 the voters approved a ballot measure called the Fair Districts Amendment that says districts have to be, well, the judgment of the state Supreme Court. Of course, the U.S. Supreme Court could overrule it, but given that six of the justices will surely like any ruling the Florida Supreme Court makes, it is easy enough for it to say: "Decisions about state maps are up to the state Supreme Court." Here is the current Florida district map:

    Florida congressional district map

    Democrats hold three seats around Orlando. FL-10 is Val Demings' seat, but she is giving it up to run for the Senate. Its PVI is D+11. Republicans are likely to stick more Democrats in it to get them out of neighboring districts. FL-09 is D+5 and is the most populous district in the state. It has to drop by 165,000 people. Most likely the gerrymanderers will take out Republicans and put them in adjacent districts to shore them up. These two will remain Democratic. Some of the FL-09 Republicans might be put in FL-07, Stephanie Murphy's EVEN district, to flip it. If they do that, Murphy might decide to run in Val Demings' old district instead, conceding the district to the GOP.

    Over in Tampa Bay, Rep. Charlie Crist (D) is running for his old job as governor, so Republicans are likely to add some of the redder parts of Pinellas County to the D+2 district to flip the open seat. It would look weird, but with a friendly state Supreme Court, weirdness is in the eye of the beholder. In South Florida, Republicans are likely to try to shore up their own members rather than go after Democrats aggressively. In particular, Maria Salazar (R) in FL-27 is in a D+5 district that Joe Biden carried. She needs help and will get it. Republicans did better than expected in South Florida in 2020, but probably they understand this could have been a fluke, so they are likely to beef up the seats they already hold rather than change the map entirely. Ultimately, the legislature will go as far as they think the courts will let them, with the Fair Districts Amendment in the back of their minds.

  • Georgia: Georgia also has a Republican trifecta. Only Georgia didn't gain or lose any seats, so there is no need to change the map dramatically. Nevertheless, the Republicans drawing the map will try their best to squeeze it until they get the peach juice flowing. Here is the current map.

    Georgia congressional map

    In 2000, the Democrats still ruled the roost in Georgia and drew a map only they could love. The courts didn't love it and threw it out. In 2011, the Republicans were in charge and decided to prioritize the safety of Rep. Austin Scott (R-GA) in GA-08. This produced a delegation with 10R, 4D. Since then, changes in population have made the delegation 8R, 6D, in part because Rep. Lucy McBath (D-GA) ousted Karen Handel (R), who had just won a high-dollar special election there. Also, Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux (D) lost to Rob Woodall (R) in the closest race in the country that year, then came back to win over Rich McCormick (R) in the next election. A complication with messing with that district, GA-07, is that although Bourdeaux is white, the district is majority-minority now, so Republicans have to worry about what is left of the Voting Rights Act. Republicans would also like to tinker with the D+6 GA-02, but here, too, the VRA is an issue.

    Republicans are going to have to address their recent decline in the Atlanta suburbs. They may try to combine the bluest parts of GA-06 and GA-07 and then make a safe Republican district in exurban northeast Georgia. This could get them to 9R, 5D. They probably won't get more than that, but that is pretty good, given that Biden won the state in 2020.

  • North Carolina: The Republicans don't have the trifecta here because Roy Cooper (D) is governor. But he has no veto power over district maps, so the legislatures can go to town. Here is the current map:

    North Carolina congressional map

    The Republicans drew maps so potent last time that the courts threw them out. Multiple times. This being the case, the delegation now is only 8R, 5D, but there will be an extra seat in 2022. With good mapmaking software, it is possible to draw a map that has 10 districts that Donald Trump won by at least 10 points and pack the Democrats in the other six, which they will win in landslides. State House Speaker Tim Moore (R) is thinking of running for Congress, so he will want a good solid district in the western Charlotte metro area. That could be the new seat, tailor-made for the guy drawing the maps.

    Rep. Madison Cawthorn in NC-11 (R+14) is a bit of a pain out in western North Carolina, but there aren't enough Democrats out there to get rid of him, so he is safe. The main thing the Republicans have to worry about is population growth in the triangle area. A map that gives them a modest edge in a few districts now might cause them to lose several districts in 2024, when there are more Democrats there and turnout is higher. What they have to worry about is being too greedy.

  • Texas: Texas is a biggie. It always is. The Republicans control everything and they are getting two new seats to play with. Here's the current map:

    Texas congressional map

    The state has a long history of drawing districts that look like dragons, bacon strips, and dumbbells. The state is also becoming less red over time due to migration from other states. Republicans have to be careful not to create too many districts that are 55-45 Republican now and might be 52-48 in 2024 and 50-50 in 2026. Those could flip with the right Democrat running. Right now the Republican advantage is 23R, 13D. They would like to make it 25R, 13D, but have to watch out about some of the bacon-strip districts, like Chip Roy's TX-21 district, which is R+10 now, but with the Austin part of it getting more Democratic by the day. One thing that will help the Republicans is the retirement of Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX). Without having to worry about protecting him, they can take pieces of his R+28 district and use it to shore up neighboring districts. If he were running, he would not be happy going from R+28 to, say, R+10 to save somebody else's neck, but with him not in the picture, the Republicans can do that.

If the Republicans in all four states decide to be cautious, they could very well pick up six new seats in the four states combined. But if they want to take the risk of losing some seats in 2024 or 2026 or 2028, they could possibly eke out 10-12 extra Republican seats in 2022. That would all-but-guarantee a Republican House in 2022. The only thing the Democrats can do is gerrymander the New York map until they wring apple juice out of it. They also can squeeze the Illinois map for all its worth, but we're not sure if Illinois has a state fruit. Actually, it does, but it's also an apple, and we just used that, so how about "they can squeeze the Illinois map like the Packers' defense squeezes the Bears' offense"? Does that work? Unfortunately for the Democrats, California is off the table since its map will be drawn by a nonpartisan commission. On the other hand, the Republicans have the trifecta in Arizona but it also has a nonpartisan commission. (V)

The Government Is Broken

Yesterday we had an item on how the federal government is broken on account of the Senate having to confirm over a thousand appointments for each new president. It turns out it is broken in other ways as well, and there has been a spate of stories about that lately. The New York Times has a story about another problematic feature of the current system: the 2-year terms of representatives.

In most other democracies, the parliament is elected for 4 or 5 years and each election tends to be a referendum on how well the current parliament did in its 4- or 5-year term. A 2-year cycle means that half the term is in an election year, when incumbents are scared to vote on anything for fear of it offending some constituents, so little happens in even-numbered years. Also, due to the enormous cost of running for Congress, even in the odd-numbered years representatives spend an inordinately large amount of time dialing for dollars. The piece argues that what is needed is a constitutional amendment making House terms four years. However, that will never happen because Democrats would insist that House elections occur in presidential election years (when turnout is high) and Republicans would insist they occur in between presidential elections (when turnout is low). They could reach agreement that half the House is up in off-years, and half is up in on-years, but that's not too likely either. And even if some sort of plan was hammered out, many Americans are fixated on term limits, and definitely not term expansions, so it is unlikely a constitutional amendment could clear the very high bar needed for adoption. So we are stuck. But the 2-year terms are still a bad idea.

The founders thought that giving House members short terms would serve as a check on potential tyranny. Actually, the 2-year term was longer than some people wanted. Elbridge Gerry, whose work was featured in the above item, argued for 1-year terms, but fortunately lost. Can you imagine House elections every year? We can. And we don't like what we see.

Moving on, in another Times article, an aide to former senator Bob Kerrey argues that the checks and balances written into the Constitution are also not working as expected. In a parliamentary system, the executive branch virtually always has a majority in the parliament and has no one else to blame for the actions it takes or does not take. In the U.S., the separation of powers allows each branch to have a modified version of Harry Truman's little sign saying: "The buck stops over there."

Case in point: eviction moratoriums. Millions of people lost their jobs last year and fell way behind on rent. Some have gotten their jobs back or found new ones, but most aren't able to pay all the back rent they owe in one blow. Absent a moratorium on evictions, millions of people would be tossed out on the street. Nobody really wants that. On the other hand, there are also millions of small landlords who own a couple of apartments. If they can't collect rent from their current tenants or replace them with tenants who can pay rent, they may not be able to pay their mortgages. That could result in banks foreclosing on them. Nobody wants that, either. So while a ban on evictions is popular, nobody wants to be the one to actually impose the ban, because of the collateral damage to property owners and banks.

Specifically, Joe Biden didn't want to do it because he would have preferred that Congress handle that hot potato. Congress wanted him to do it. Each branch wanted a different one to take the flak. The separation of powers makes it somewhat unclear whose job it is to deal with things like this.

In recent years, Congress has been increasingly willing to cede its power to the executive branch to avoid making tough decisions. For example, Donald Trump was able to impose tariffs on his own—even though the Constitution specifically lists levying tariffs as a congressional power— because in some earlier year Congress passed a law giving the president that power so he would get the slings and arrows from people who didn't like the tariff. Also, more and more laws are extremely vague, leaving aides and summer interns in the executive agencies to write the regulations that should have been in the law in the first place.

The only time Congress really asserts itself is when one party controls Congress and the other controls the White House. Then Congress stands on its hind legs to assert that whatever the president is doing is wrong, illegal, and unconstitutional. This is not what the separation of powers was designed for.

In short, things have changed since the 18th century. There were no political parties then. There are now. A system designed for gentlemen farmers (and slaveholders) that far back isn't working so well anymore, but no one seems to be able to do anything about it. (V)

Republican Governors Risk Becoming the Face of Anti-COVID Measures

Republican governors in a number of states have been waging war on the state agencies and school districts that are trying to suppress the Delta variant of the coronavirus. Some are even issuing executive orders banning vaccine mandates, masks, and other tools needed to combat the virus. Former RNC Chairman Michael Steele is worried that when people start dying in large numbers as a consequence of these actions, Republicans will get blamed. He said: "The party leadership has gone so far out on this limb that they stand with a saw in their hand and they're sawing it off." Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA), himself a physician, said: "Whenever politicians mess with public health, usually it doesn't work out well for public health. And ultimately, it doesn't work out for the politician, because public health suffers, and the American people want public health."

Most people don't follow all the details of politics, but if many more people die from COVID-19 this year (and maybe next year), Democrats could come up with a simple message like: "Republican governors killed thousands of people by their actions." It is not exactly on the mark, but close enough that Republicans don't want to have to spend October 2022 explaining why it is wrong. And the more governors (and senators) who oppose public health measures that could save lives, the bigger the gamble is.

The problem will be especially acute if deaths go way up in Republican-led states and down in states run by Democrats. It is already true that 90% of Democrats have gotten at least one shot of some COVID-19 vaccine, while only 54% of Republicans have. That is precisely the math that could lead to higher death rates in red states than in blue states, with the attendant bad PR for the Republican governors. The governors are not likely to back down, even if they see that things are going the wrong way, because that would appear as weak and among Republicans, weakness is seen as a fatal flaw. (V)

Greg Abbott Is Not Ron DeSantis

Governors of big states are in the news all the time. Consider: Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-CA) is in the news because he is the subject of a recall election. Gov. Greg Abbott (R-TX) is in the news because he called a special session of the state legislature to pass restrictive voting laws. Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) is in the news because he is pandering to the Republican base more than anyone, probably even more than Donald Trump. Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) is in the news because he is an obnoxious jerk and it finally caught up with him.

But, as they say, one of these is not like the others. Specifically, Abbott is actually more low-key and moderate than he appears to be. He is up for reelection in 2022. He is also mentioned as a potential 2024 presidential candidate, although though he could stay out because a freak encounter with an oak tree when he was 26 left him paralyzed from the waist down. Running a modern nationwide campaign in a wheelchair is a lot tougher now than it was in FDR's day (more on this on Saturday). Especially against someone like DeSantis, who is young (42), vigorous, and telegenic (which Abbott is definitely not). Nevertheless, Abbott is a real force in Texas politics and thus important nationally. For these reasons, Politico has a long profile of Abbott that gives a better understanding of him and his role in Texas' politics.

Recently, Abbott appeared at the Alamo to celebrate signing a new law that allows anyone over 21 to carry a concealed or open gun with no license and without even taking a safety course. He smiled broadly during the event. In reality, the law wasn't his idea and he didn't state his position on it until it was basically passed. Then he jumped in, in favor of it. A lot of what he does is like that. He lies low at first and when something becomes inevitable, he decides he is in favor of it. In contrast, DeSantis is signing executive orders left and right that nobody else wants and which are probably unconstitutional. Abbott is not generally a fan of that approach.

Abbott is not a right-wing firebrand. He also lacks of the folksiness of former governor Rick Perry, the swagger of former governor George W. Bush, and the sharp wit of former governor Ann Richards. He has no charisma at all. He generally avoids rallies. When he has something to say, he'll say it in the studio on a local television station. Nevertheless, he is dominating the field for next year's gubernatorial election, mostly because he is an incumbent Republican in a red state than because he is personally beloved in some way.

Abbott is described by both his fans and opponents as cautious and judicious. He works hard, surrounded by a loyal staff. His every minute is planned in advance. Even his wardrobe is carefully worked out in advance, depending on whether he is dealing with an ongoing disaster (casual) or making a major speech (formal). He also focuses on working behind the scenes to get things done. In that respect, he is almost the opposite of DeSantis. But as a consequence, he has been able to assemble majorities of Trumpers, never-Trumpers, and centrists to get his priorities enacted, such as expanding pre-K in Texas.

When the Politico reporter who wrote the story asked Abbott point blank if Trump won the election. Abbott refused to answer the question. When asked about the Texas AG Ken Paxton's lawsuit to overturn the election, he refused to either support or oppose Paxton. In fact, in contrast to DeSantis, who doesn't give a hoot about what any Republican except Donald Trump thinks, in the entire interview, Abbott refused to say anything that might offend any Republican. As an example, inspired by North Carolina, some Texas Republicans want their own "bathroom bill." Abbott didn't want to either sign it or veto it, so he worked furiously behind the scenes pressuring the chairman of the committee that was handling it to bottle it up and not let it go to a floor vote, let alone make it to his desk. It didn't.

Abbott will face at least three challengers in the GOP primary next year: former state senator Don Huffines, state Republican Party chairman Allen West, and conservative media personality Chad Prather. Abbott is taking no chances, but in his own way. He has convinced four wealthy Texans to donate $1 million each to his campaign. In June, he blocked off 5 entire days for doing nothing but calling donors. He knows his donors and asks about their kids. In public he is stiff and awkward, but when talking to people he knows, he is warm and friendly. This has led to a war chest of $19 million so far, and the primary is a year off. If he can outspend his primary rivals by 5x or 10x, he won't have to take stands. His media team will just bludgeon the challengers into oblivion. He has also managed to stay on good terms with Trump and Trump has endorsed him. However, most people think Abbott is the odds-on favorite to be reelected, so Trump took the easy path here and endorsed the probable winner, even though the probable winner is not especially Trumpy and won't even say that Trump won. Abbott is definitely not your standard-issue Texas governor, but people seem to vote for him nevertheless. (V)

If you wish to contact us, please use one of these addresses. For the first two, please include your initials and city.

To download a poster about the site to hang up, please click here.

Email a link to a friend or share:

---The Votemaster and Zenger
Aug11 We Told You He's a Dick
Aug11 Onward and Upward on Infrastructure
Aug11 Winning By Losing?
Aug11 Rep. Ron Kind to Retire
Aug11 A Government "Designed for Failure"
Aug10 The Infrastructure Two-Step
Aug10 Trump Buys Some Time on the Tax Front
Aug10 Texas Democrats Buy Some Time on the Voting Front
Aug10 Tim Scott for President?
Aug10 Cuomo Tries to Save His Bacon
Aug10 It's Getting Harder for the Unvaxxed...
Aug10 ...Or Maybe It's Not Getting Hard at All
Aug09 Senate Moves Closer to Passing the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill
Aug09 Indiana University Students Ask Supreme Court to Block Vaccine Mandate
Aug09 DeSantis Goes All in for the Anti-Mask, Anti-Vaxx Voters
Aug09 California Republican Party Won't Endorse in the Recall Election
Aug09 Iowa Update
Aug09 Democrats Will Test 2022 Strategy This Year
Aug09 Republican Candidates Position Themselves in North Carolina Senate Race
Aug09 Warnock Leads Potential Challengers in Georgia Senate Race
Aug09 In Like a Lamb
Aug09 What Is the Purpose of the AFL-CIO?
Aug08 Sunday Mailbag
Aug07 Saturday Q&A
Aug06 A More Respectable Coup
Aug06 Truth, Justice, and the American Way, Part I: The 1/6 Commission Isn't Fooling Around
Aug06 Truth, Justice, and the American Way, Part II: Cyber Ninjas May Get Kunoichi'ed
Aug06 The Missing Piece of the Florida Puzzle
Aug06 Aspiring California Governors Debate
Aug06 We're Not Lyin', Lamb Is In
Aug06 The Readers Have Spoken
Aug06 This Week in Schadenfreude
Aug06 Richard Trumka, 1949-2021
Aug05 Senators Have nearly 300 Amendments Ready for the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill
Aug05 Trump Lawyers Try to Block Tax Return Handover
Aug05 Democrats Scrounge for Cash to Pay for Infrastructure
Aug05 Who Is Kathleen Hochul?
Aug05 GETTR Is GETTING Actual Terrorists
Aug05 Ohio Senate Race Heats Up
Aug05 Governor of Tennessee Supports Paying for Vaccinations
Aug04 Cuomo Is a 21st-Century Dick
Aug04 The Establishment Strikes Back
Aug04 Biden to Extend Eviction Moratorium
Aug04 House Democrats Need to Work on their Messaging
Aug04 Speaking of Questionable Gubernatorial Behavior...
Aug04 It's Not Just Speculation Anymore
Aug04 World's Longest International Border Remains Closed For Now
Aug03 Eviction Crisis On Tap
Aug03 Well, This Was Entirely Predictable, Part I: Red State/Blue State COVID Gap Is Widening Quickly
Aug03 Well, This Was Entirely Predictable, Part II: Trump Will Fight Release of Tax Returns