Texas Democrats Cheer Trump Return
as GOP Loyalty Scant and Short-Lived
November 16, 2022
Governor Greg Abbott ended six years on the fence at the helm of the state when he repackaged himself as hard-edged conservative whose every move was designed to win Donald Trump's endorsement for a re-election race that he won last week by a double-digit margin. But Abbott has been in no hurry to return the favor with a public expression of his support for the comeback campaign for president that Trump launched on Tuesday night at his winter home in Mar-a-Lago.
U.S. Ted Cruz was mocked for throwing his family under a bus in a desperation bid for Trump's forgiveness after saying terrible things about him when the two were competing for the GOP nomination in 2016. After two years of Cruz groveling, Trump staged a rally for the Texas senator in the countdown to the 2018 midterm election when he came close to losing to Democrat Beto O'Rourke at the ballot box that year. Cruz gave Trump a sugarcoated snub today when he declined to say whether he would be on board for the Trump comeback bid and in 2024 when he'd prefer to let the competition play out instead.
“I think we accomplished a lot of good things when Donald Trump was president,” Cruz said. “If he’s the nominee, I’ll enthusiastically support him.”
After landing Trump's endorsement in a race for re-election 2020, U.S. Senator John Cornyn even fudged a bit on whether he would back the Republican who primary voters nominate for the White House in two years. “I’m sure I’ll support the nominee of the Republican Party, but I think there’s likely to be a competitive primary election,” Cornyn said when asked about the Trump campaign resurrection on the coast in Florida.
The lack of love for Trump in Texas on a milestone night for the former president is a direct correlation of Florida Ron DeSantis' rapidly-rising stock with Republicans from coast to coast after a smashing re-election win in the general election last week when the GOP was faring poorly in major battleground states where the 2024 race will be decided. The lack of competition that DeSantis would expect from Democrats in Texas would make it possible for him to spend his resources on the states that are the most important with the potential to swing either way.
Texans had shown no interest in presidential bids by Governor Greg Abbott or Cruz, who were both omitted from a list of options in a state GOP poll last weekend that found DeSantis leading Trump by 11 points here with support from 66 percent of likely Texas voters without the former president in the field. The firm that conducted the survey for the state party organization - CWS Research - included Cruz and Abbott in an October poll for the archconservative Defend Texas Liberty PAC. The pair failed to reach double digits combined at a time when Trump was still the favorite in Texas.
Attorney General Ken Paxton was the only major Trump Texas ally to specifically endorse the ex-president in a third consecutive race for the job that Democratic President Joe Biden has indicated he plans to seek again as well in 2024. Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick gave the impression that he'd be supporting Trump again as his Texas campaign chairman in the first two races. But Patrick stopped short of saying that in a Facebook post.
“President Trump is the candidate the Democrats fear the most in 2024. If you heard his speech tonight, you know why,” Patrick said. “It was one of the best he has ever given. After two more years of President Biden and the leftist policies of the Democrats, Americans will be ready for America to be Great Again.”
Republican Rick Perry - the longest serving Texas governor who served as Trump's first energy secretary - appeared to be on the sidelines like a majority of the current and former elected leaders in the Lone Star State. Perry ran the risk of Trump's wrath when he dropped DeSantis' name in an interview with the Texas Tribune on Tuesday when discussing the potential field in 2024.
Aside from Paxton and Patrick more or less, Trump's only formal supporters in Texas include GOP U.S. Reps. Troy Nehls of Richmond, Ronny Jackson of Amarillo and Tony Gonzales of San Antonio and incumbent congressional Republican Wesley Hunt of Houston.
Trump will find that loyalty is a very tentative and transactional term in the Texas political arena - and that could come as an insult to someone who demands it and seeks revenge against those who betray his trust.
The only political leader who welcomed Trump with open arms and genuine enthusiasm to the 2024 race for president here was Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa.
"Tonight, Texas Democrats celebrate the announcement of our twice-impeached, under-investigation, under-subpoena, former president’s 2024 presidency bid," Hinojosa said after the Trump announcement Tuesday night. "We look forward to Donald Trump galvanizing Democrats across the country for a fourth straight election cycle.
“If chosen as the Republican nominee, Donald Trump – who had the worst showing for any Republican presidential nominee in Texas (and the only single-digit statewide presidential victories) since the 1990s – will only help the Texas Democratic Party in our mission of turning Texas blue."
Hinojosa said the GOP primary in 2024 would be "a will be a fascinating circus to watch" with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis as the consensus target as a substantial frontrunner at the outset. .
"We expect Ron DeSantis to be chastised for his inability to fully exile the new, woke Mickey Mouse from a state that he himself has said is ‘where woke goes to die.’ We expect Greg Abbott to be excoriated for refusing to ban all pronouns in the state he’s ostensibly supposed to be keeping in line," the TDP boss added. "And we expect Ted Cruz, unable to withstand the cold winter weather in Des Moines, to make an encore escape to the sandy beaches of Cancun (good thing he can still record his podcast remotely). But in the end, we do expect Donald Trump to retain his mantle as leader of the Republican Party – or whatever pieces of it still remain intact."
more to come ...