COVID Cases Fall, Hospitalizations Steady

New infections continue a slow and steady decline with 962 cases reported by the state yesterday.   This is down from the 1,100 reported one week ago.  Hospitalizations are remaining steady, but falling slightly as well. The state is reporting 1,279 people hospitalized with COVID illness.  That down slightly from the 1,436 reported one week ago and the lowest number since mid-June.

Governor’s Race

Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke has once again outraised (slightly) incumbent Greg Abbott in the latest reporting period.  From July through September, O’Rourke hauled in $25.2 million, compared to just shy of $25 million for Gov. Abbott.  O’Rourke claims that he received nearly 500,000 total contributions during the period, most of which were received online.  His average contribution was $53.

But Abbott still has a huge overall cash advantage.  This year’s governor’s race has now surpassed the $200 million mark in total money raised by both candidates.  O’Rourke has now raised a total of $66 million for the race, which is a record for any Democrat running for Governor in Texas.  NOTE:  In 2002, Democrat Tony Sanchez spent $76 million in his unsuccessful bid to unseat incumbent Rick Perry.  But, $60 million of that total was from Sanchez himself.  Gov. Abbott has now raised $134 million since he announced his reelection bid in 2019.  No candidate for Governor in Texas history has ever raised more.

With less than a month to go before the election, polls have consistently shown Abbott with an advantage of anywhere from 5 to 8 points.  Both campaigns are spending heavily on TV advertising.  O’Rourke’s latest ad features his promise to expand Medicaid, while Abbott is touting the state’s good economy, low taxes, and attempts to combat rising inflation and gas prices.

Uvalde Officials Fired, Resign

Last week, the Uvalde school board suspended the entire school district police force.  This is in addition to an officer they fired when it was revealed the officer was a former state trooper that had been on sight the day of the May 24th school shooting.  The school district personnel that were suspended will either be fired or reassigned within the school district.  Families of the victims had been pushing the school board for weeks to fire the entire police force due to their delayed response to the shooting.

The school superintendent announced his retirement on Monday, adding to the list of local officials that have left their positions – one way or another – in the aftermath of the shooting.  Many have been calling for his removal in the months since the incident, saying that the district was not adequately prepared in advance for the shooting and that he showed poor leadership in the aftermath by not holding himself and more people accountable.

Border News

New York City Mayor Eric Adams has declared a state of emergency as the city tries to contain the influx of migrants that are being bused from Texas and other states.  According to the mayor’s office, New York currently has over 61,000 people in shelters that includes both homeless and asylum seekers.  Adams is asking for federal and state relief to the tune of more than $1 billion to help the city with the crisis.  As of yesterday, the city is building a temporary “tent city” on Randall’s Island to house the migrants at least on a temporary basis.  The center will be able to house 500 individuals at a time and is expected to be open by the end of the week.  Over the weekend, nearly 2,000 asylum seekers arrived in NYC, bringing the total to roughly 19,000 migrants that have been taken to NYC from various regions of the country.

Several of the buses were inspected and ticketed once they reached the city over the weekend.  Gov. Abbott immediately jumped on the opportunity to criticize Mayor Adams for hindering the progress of the buses, saying the ticketing is “a pathetic ploy by Mayor Adams to cease Texas from busing migrants to his self-declared sanctuary metropolis”.  Abbott went on to suggest that Adams should be pleading with President Biden to secure the border.

Political Notes

Vice-President Kamala Harris made a stop in Austin over the weekend, first at a discussion at the LBJ Library and then at a Democratic Party fundraiser downtown.  In her remarks, Harris urged Texans to get out and vote for the protection of reproductive rights, calling the ban on abortions “immoral”.  She also publicly endorsed O’Rourke for Governor.

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo was hospitalized over the weekend for food poisoning and a benign ovarian cyst.  The cyst will eventually require surgery.  Hidalgo, the 31-year-old first term Democrat, is in a tough reelection battle against Republican Alex del Moral Mealer, who has harshly criticized Hidalgo for rising crime rates in the county.  Hidalgo is also under intense scrutiny by local law enforcement for the county’s proposed budget for next year.  Harris County has been solidly Democratic in the last several election cycles, but this race is expected to be very close, with some polls showing Mealer with a slight advantage with less than a month to go before the election.  Hidalgo made her first public appearance yesterday at a commissioners court meeting where tensions escalated over the county’s law enforcement budget.  Hidalgo was booed by the waiting crowd and the court was never able to achieve a quorum to conduct business.

Republican Lt. Governor Dan Patrick is also in a closer than expected reelection battle against Democrat Mike Collier.  Recent polls show Patrick with a lead of less than 5 points.  Yesterday, Patrick announced raising $2.2 million over the last reporting period.  Collier’s figures were not yet available.  And to show that the Patrick campaign is taking the race seriously, he has released an ad attacking Collier.  The new ad will begin airing this week and attempts to tie Collier with O’Rourke and President Biden, saying Texans must “ensure Collier cannot inflict the Democrat’s job-killing and woke agenda on the Lone Star State”.

Texas Secretary of State Jon Scott appeared on Fox News over the weekend to discuss the potential of voter fraud.  Scott – appointed by Gov. Abbott – said that people should “absolutely” have faith in our elections.  He listed several steps his office is taking along with local elections officials to ensure the integrity of the November results.  Scott even went on to say, when asked about the election deniers that don’t believe him, that “there are those who are misinformed, and they are going to hold on to their foundations, no matter what”.

What’s Next??

There are a few hearings scheduled on the House side in the coming weeks, but the hearing schedule has slowed down as most members are concentrating on their reelection.

The schedule and details of all interim hearings can be found here:

Early voting starts October 24th, election day is November 8th, five weeks from today.