Abbott dropped any pretense that he sits as a conservative counter-weight to the anti-business, anti-jobs, big government Republican agenda enforced by Empower Texans billionaire donor Tim Dunn and his political mouthpiece, Dan Patrick. Abbott took credit for non-substantive issues like a constitutional convention of the states, passing over truly urgent matters like school finance reform and meaningful property tax reform. Abbott then quickly read through a Tea Party legislative wish list and shrank away, avoiding any questions and leaving leadership and all the next moves to Dan Patrick and his alt-right deputies in the Senate and House.
Abbott may be the weakest modern-day Texas Governor?
It was a disorienting scene for Texans used to assertive sometimes larger than life Governors. Ann Richards, George W. Bush and Rick Perry easily commanded center stage. No one doubted that Governors like Bill Clements and Mark White could make a fist and land a punch. With Abbott, it’s more make sandwich and take a nap. Since Texas changed terms for Governors from 2 years to 4 years in 1972, Texans haven’t seen a less active, more reactive, or more passive aggressive Governor than Greg Abbott.
During most of his term, the media has given Abbott the benefit of the doubt. However, Abbott’s inability to direct or control the agenda during the 2017 Legislative Session – or to even serve as a mediator between the stronger personalities of Dan Patrick and Joe Straus – has apparently convinced reporters to stop waiting for signs of leadership and write about what they see. Both the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal and the New York Times recently detailed some of the fallout from Abbott’s passive approach.
Abbott’s weak leadership hurts Texans
Since Abbott was sworn in as Governor, important measures of a strong state economy have trended downward. Take a look:
- Under Abbott, the Texas economy has fallen from 3rd nationally to 21st.
- In April, the Dallas Morning News reported that the Texas unemployment rate surpassed the unemployment rate in state of California.
- In 2017, Texas lawmakers were forced to work under one of the tightest budget squeezes in recent memory due to Texas’ slower economic growth.
- Last year, Kiplinger did not forecast Texas to be among the top 10 states with the fastest job growth. According to Governing Magazine, 13 states, plus the District of Columbia, outpaced Texas in 2016.
What does Abbott’s abdication mean for Texans?
Now Dan Patrick is in the driver’s seat with Empower Texans billionaire Tim Dunn as his navigator. Patrick’s goal is to lock down his position as the unquestioned leader of the Tea Party alt-right ideologues who control Republican primaries in Texas. Dunn sees Patrick and his alt-right acolytes in the Legislature as the political force he needs to dismantle the Texas public school system and divert education funds to unregulated private schools, which will have devastating effects on Texas kids and on the long-term future of the state.