|Republican Texas Rep. Travis Clardy defends voting restrictions House Democrats are killing in current special session.
Phelan Teamers Portray Voting Bill as Liberal
as Oregon GOP Leader Backs Texas Walkout
July 18, 2021
Faced with the prospect of losing independent voters whose numbers are mushrooming in suburbia, Texas House Republicans sought to reframe the narrative on a quorum-killing boycott by Democrats with claims on Saturday that the GOP election bill would expand access to the ballot box in a state with liberal voting laws.
The voting bill battle took several wild turns as the weekend progressed - with three Democrats who'd been vaccinated testing positive for COVID-19 in Washington D.C. as the top headline in a development that could prolong the rogue representatives' stay amid uncertainty on air travel safety protocols for people who've been exposed after receiving the vaccine.
The Democrats who fled the state six days ago to block a vote on the election measure gained an improbable ally this weekend when Oregon Senate Minority Leader Fred Girod defended the tactics that the Texans from the rival party are using to fight the elections measure as a legitimate weapon for keeping the majority from going extreme.
Girod can empathize in a deep blue state where Senate Republicans were excoriated by the ruling Democrats for abandoning their constituents with walkouts that deprived them of quorums during the past three years for votes on climate change, prekindergarten funding and vaccine mandates. But the Oregonian Republican seized on the Texas Democrats theatrics as a billy club to swing out at Democratic leaders in his own state for saying the exact things about the Republicans there as Governor Greg Abbott and GOP lawmakers here are saying now about the Democrats who've been absent without leave for almost a week.
With the Texas House in the eye of the storm, GOP Speaker Dade Phelan changed his tune dramatically on Saturday when he said he was praying for the Democratic colleagues with covid. But Phelan kept his eye on the prize despite the sudden show of compassion - announcing that he had the state's top official investigating new rules and safety standards for flights with lawmakers who've been vaccinated.
The House leadership team launched a new messaging campaign in the meantime that appeared to be aimed at moderates and independents who've been leaving the party in droves in recent months in the major suburbs in and around the largest cities that have been red in the past.
State Rep. Briscoe Cain - a Deer Park Republican who's the voting bill's original author - went ballistic on Democratic colleagues in a Fox News interview on Saturday when he accused them of acting in bad faith, gamesmanship, deception and admitting privately to him that they'd been dishonest with the public about the measure. Cain gave the Phelan an opportunity for a choir pitch with nothing to lose on Fox.
But State Rep. Travis Clardy of Nacogdoches faced a more imposing challenger with an appearance on CNN on Saturday as the messenger for independents who outnumber Republicans and Democrats now in many of the major suburbs in and around the largest Texas cities. Clardy - a key player on a select panel that Phelan appointed to handle the legislation in special session - raised eyebrows from coast to coast when he portrayed the voting measure as progressive piece of legislation that's been unfairly characterized.
"We have great, I will even use the word 'liberal,' voting laws in Texas," Clardy told CNN anchor Pamela Brown. "That's not true," Brown appeared aghast by the remark. "The voting laws are not liberal in Texas," she snapped back. "Texas has some of the strictest laws on the books."
But Cain - having been relieved of his chief House sponsor duties after an unsuccessful run this spring - spring - explained without fear of being challenged why the Texas election bill should have strong bipartisan support.
"Anyone that reads it realizes it doesn’t criminalize mistakes." Cain asserted. "It expands voting access. It expands hours, and protects our elections. That’s it."
more to come ...