COVID Cases Fall, Hospitalizations Steady

New infections continue a slow and steady decline with 2,923 cases reported by the state yesterday.   This is down from the 3,700 reported one week ago.  Hospitalizations are remaining steady, but falling slightly as well. The state is reporting 2,259 people hospitalized with COVID illness.  That down slightly from the 2,500 reported one week ago.

Governor’s Race

A new poll was released this morning by the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas.  The poll shows Gov. Abbott continuing to lead over Democrat Beto O’Rourke.  But, the lead has narrowed slightly to 5 points, at least 2 points lower than previous polls done over the summer that had shown Abbott with a 7-point lead.  Abbott was the choice of 45% of the respondents, compared to 40% for O’Rourke. More in depth, the poll shows that Texans feel Abbott does a better job than O’Rourke would on major issues such as the economy, public safety, property taxes, and election integrity.

The poll also shows Republican Lt. Governor Dan Patrick with a 39% to 32% advantage over Democrat Mike Collier, as well as Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton having a 38% to 33% lead over Democrat Rochelle Garza.  There are surprisingly still a substantial number of undecideds in all statewide races.  The poll was conducted online among 1,200 registered voters from August 28th to September 6th, and has a margin of error of +/- 2.8%.   Full poll results can be found here:’rourke-52-support-busing

A new PAC called “Coulda Been Worse” is investing millions to defeat incumbent Gov. Abbott.  The PAC is based in Arlington, Virginia according to advertiser forms filled out with television stations throughout the state.  Nothing more is known about the group, other than it is registered as an LLC in Delaware, where state law allows the formation of corporations without having to provide detailed information.

The group has already purchased $10 million in TV advertising, and the ads started to appear over the weekend.  According to the ads, issues such as the Uvalde shooting, the failure of the power grid, rising property taxes, and a failed border policy are due to the leadership of Abbott.  No word on how long these ads will run or what other forms of attacks on Abbott are planned.

Abbott has been on TV for three weeks, with ads touting his support of law enforcement and increased funding for all public safety measures.  This is his second series of ads, following the initial round that ran in August that focused on his journey after an accident paralyzed him at age 27.  Abbott will continue to saturate the airwaves.  According to his campaign, they have budgeted over $20 million for advertising through election day.

Over the weekend, O’Rourke finished his 49 day campaign tour that included stops in mostly small to mid-sized cities.  O’Rourke said that in addition to meeting with and listening to voters, his campaign built up a network of volunteers that the campaign will utilize to register new voters and ensure all of his supporters go to the polls.  O’Rourke’s claim is that there are thousands of moderate and Democratic-leaning voters in the state that have stayed home in previous statewide elections, and his challenge is to energize those supposed supporters to vote this year.  O’Rourke has proven he and his campaign can mobilize voters, but the challenge to overcome the Republican dominance remains.  In his failed bid to unseat US Senator Ted Cruz in 2018, a well-funded O’Rourke fared better than most pundits thought he would, but still fell nearly 300,000 votes short of Cruz.

Border News

Gov. Abbott issued a statement over the weekend that the state has sent more than 10,000 migrants to sanctuary cities.   Since the program began in August, the state has sent 7,900 migrants to Washington, DC, 2,200 to New York and another 300 to Chicago.  In response, Washington, DC mayor Muriel Bowser has declared a public health emergency which allows the city to immediately appropriate $10 million to establish a new agency within the city government to provide services to the migrants entering the city.  The services the city will provide include meals, medical care, transportation, and other resettlement needs.  Bowser has said the city will ask the federal government for reimbursement for the money spent to assist the newly arrived migrants.  Abbott has also said that the state will continue to bus the migrants out of the state to the sanctuary cities until the federal government changes its policies and makes progress towards securing the southern border.

Uvalde School News

State troopers were deployed to Uvalde over the weekend to respond to alleged gang violence after two local juveniles were shot in the city’s Memorial Park on Thursday.  After conversations with the mayor and county judge, Gov. Abbott decided the deployment was necessary.  In a statement, Abbott said he has directed the troopers to “conduct patrol operations and begin conducting anti-gang efforts in coordination with local police.”  A timetable for the deployment of the extra law enforcement personnel was not given.

In an interview with CNN last week, Department of Public Safety director Steve McCraw said that if his agency finds that the officers responding to the May 24th shooting had any responsibility for the failed police response, then he would resign.  McCraw was in Brownsville for a House Transportation committee hearing, and made the remarks when approached by a reporter from CNN who wanted to ask about the DPS investigation into the incident.  In previous committee legislative hearings on the shooting, McCraw has publicly testified that he did not think it was feasible for the DPS officers to take over command of the incident that day, and placed total blame on the local law enforcement agencies for the delayed response.  However, he now says that the DPS is committed to holding itself accountable.

Political Notes

Incumbent Attorney General Ken Paxton has released his first ad attacking his Democratic opponent, Rochelle Garza.  The ad is on all of Paxton’s social media outlets and claims that Garza is “the most radical politician ever nominated by a major political party in Texas.”  The ad goes on to criticize Garza’s stance on border security and her desire to expand Medicaid.  Garza fires back saying that this is a desperate attempt by Paxton to distract from his own legal issues.  Paxton is currently under indictment for felony securities fraud charges and is under FBI investigation for accusations of bribery brought forth by employees in the AG’s office.  According to some recent polling, the race is tighter than expected, with Paxton having a 5 point lead in the poll mentioned above, but there are nearly 30% still undecided on their final choice.  You can see the ad here:

Another statewide race that is tighter than expected is the race for Lt. Governor.  Two term Republican incumbent Dan Patrick is shown to have about a 5 point lead in most polls, and as much as a 7-point lead in the poll released this morning.  However, Democrat Mike Collier has picked up two key endorsements from Republican officials recently.  Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley and retiring state Senator Kel Seliger of Amarillo recently declared their support for Collier.  Rumors – and let me stress rumors — have been abound that Patrick as of late has met with Republican members of the Senate to warn them to be prepared for his defeat, and to begin the process of changing the Senate rules.  Under the current Senate rules, the Lt. Governor has nearly absolute power over the Senate and its proceedings.  The Republicans hold a 19-12 partisan advantage in the 31 member body.

The Patrick campaign has fought back fiercely.  When contacted by the Quorum Report about the rumors, a campaign spokesman said there is no truth to that rumor, and that their polling shows Patrick with a comfortable and secure lead.  No member of the Senate has confirmed that such conservations have taken place.

Yesterday, Patrick announced the endorsement of all 14 Republican members of the Senate that are returning in January.

What’s Next??

Later today, the House Public Health Committee will meet to discuss the challenges of providing adequate health care in rural areas of the state, and the House Public Education Committee will meet next week to discuss the teacher shortage faced by most school districts. Also later today, the Senate Local Government Committee will meet to discuss property tax appraisal reform.

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

The last day to register to vote is October 11th.  Early voting starts October 24th, election day is November 8th.