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Call it the Greg Abbott Protection Session.
With a governor up for re-election in 2022 and maybe considering a presidential run in 2024, Republican lawmakers are pushing potential opponents out of the way like Panhandle snowplows during the Big Freeze:
▪ Gun-rights activists, the faction that has barked loudest at the governor the past two years?
They’ll get to carry a handgun without a license.
▪ Abortion abolitionists, the extremist Republican faction that demands Texas completely end abortions regardless what the Constitution and courts say?
They’ll get a bill allowing anyone anywhere to sue anyone else who helped an abortion in any way, presumably including family members, building landlords, Uber drivers and the clinic window washer.
▪ MAGA obsessives, the crowd that can’t let go of election complaints even after more than 50 judges rejected buffoonish claims of problems with the 2020 presidential outcome?
They’ll get new statewide election laws to tighten down on voting, although not the vengeful crackdown on Houston that was proposed.
Only 13% of Republicans disapproved of Abbott’s performance in the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll, and that included a higher percentage of abortion opponents no doubt satisfied with the new House and Senate bills.
If either Attorney General Ken Paxton of McKinney, Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller of Stephenville or Republican state Chairman Allen West of Garland is planning to challenge Abbott, he hasn’t left much running room.
“I don’t think Abbott has anything to worry about from Allen West,” Rice University political scientist Mark P. Jones wrote by email.
“The GOP leadership is pushing enough conservative red meat ... that even when some portions of it lay on the butcher’s floor rather than as law, there will be enough legislation for Abbott to hang his hat on such that no one who is serious will be able to question his conservative credentials. “
The session doesn’t end for three weeks, but Texas House Republicans celebrated Friday.
They proclaimed that the abortion and election bills passed Wednesday and Thursday delivered “the most conservative 48 hours in the history of the Texas House.”
“I think I would put that in the category of hyperbole,” Jones wrote.
Republicans now face “acrobatics” to pass the bills but still blame Democrats for anything that fails, he wrote: “It is safe to assume that not all of the measures will reach the governor’s desk.”
As you might guess, Democratic strategist Matt Angle of the Washington, D.C.-based Lone Star Project did not view the bills the same way.
“What the Republicans have done is push businesses away from Texas with discriminatory vote suppression, attack Texans’ personal liberties, and weaken local control,” Angle wrote by email, calling the bills “top-down oppression.”
“The Republicans aren’t so much doing Abbott’s bidding as checking boxes for [former President Donald] Trump and the Trumper activists,” Angle wrote.
It’s only 10 months until they face those voters in 2022.