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And the winner of Tuesday’s runoff is ... Gov. Greg Abbott

Sunday, June 9, 2024

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott wasn’t on the ballot for Tuesday’s primary runoff election, yet he was the overwhelming winner.

Abbott has been relentless in his support for school vouchers. He has spent millions of campaign dollars to support pro-voucher candidates, traveling across the state during the primary and runoff elections in an effort to oust nearly two dozen Republican House members who opposed his voucher plan last year.

That effort paid off. In Tuesday’s primary, Abbott- backed challengers won four of six races, and the governor declared, “The Texas Legislature now has enough votes to pass school choice.”

We don’t support vouchers, but we don’t disagree with Abbott’s assessment. Whatever Texans think about vouchers, which supporters describe with the euphemism “education savings accounts,” it’s unlikely Democrats can flip enough seats in the general election to change the political calculation. This speaks to the power of gerrymandering, which often makes the primary election decisive.

Vouchers are often couched in the rhetoric of “choice” and “freedom,” but “giveaway” would be a better word. We see no reason why tax dollars should be given to families, often wealthy, to help cover tuition costs at private schools, often religious.

Beyond this, to the degree students leave public schools for private schools, vouchers threaten to further erode school funding, already inadequate and unconscionable for a state as wealthy as Texas.

Time will reveal the implications of Tuesday’s primary results, but it’s clear Abbott is a resounding political force whose influence, be it on vouchers or immigration, extends far beyond Texas’ borders.

While vouchers are a priority for far-right lawmakers, Tuesday was not an all-out win for this dominant branch of the Republican Party. House Speaker Dade Phelan won a bruising runoff election against Orange County Republican Party Chairman David Covey, who had the backing of former President Donald Trump, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Attorney General Ken Paxton.

Phelan oversaw the House’s impeachment of Paxton on corruption and bribery charges a year ago. He has proved a moderate force in Austin, which arguably makes him defiant.

At the federal level, U.S. Rep. Tony Gonzales, R-San Antonio, also navigated an intense primary against YouTube star Brandon Herrera, “the AK Guy.” This was for the better. Gonzales has been an effective lawmaker who has represented this sprawling border district well.

Gonzales is pretty darn conservative. Nevertheless, he has shown the kind of independence that has served his constituents in Congressional District 23 well but rankled the state GOP. The state party censured him last year for voting to codify gay marriage and supporting the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, modest reforms in the aftermath of the Uvalde massacre.

Could you imagine someone who goes by the “AK Guy” representing Uvalde, where 19 children and two teachers were massacred in the nation’s second-deadliest school shooting? It is untenable.

Nevertheless, it is a sad reflection of these times that Gonzales, a U.S. Navy veteran, was even in a runoff with Herrera.

And we now know just whom indicted U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar will be facing in the general election. U.S. Navy veteran Jay Furman won the Republican primary for Congressional District 28, which stretches from San Antonio to Laredo. Furman likely faces long odds (again, we see the power of gerrymandering), but Cuellar’s indictment shortens the odds a bit.

San Marcos Record

(512) 392-2458
P.O. Box 1109, San Marcos, TX 78666