This was supposed to be a post about the past week of early voting here in Texas to determine party candidates for November’s election. Because it’s never just about elections, is it? Not about the two Democrats vying for the party’s gubernatorial candidacy, former Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez and Houstonian Andrew White. Not about the slow start and the low turnout. Not about strategies Democrats are using to encourage non-voters to vote.
But it is about elections. It has to be. In response to the shooting, Gov. Greg Abbott spoke at a press conference about his plans to address the issue of gun violence in schools. From The Texas Tribune:
Abbott said that he had already been preparing to release several new proposals for gun laws in Texas.
Now, he said, he will begin meeting with stakeholders to propose “swift solutions to prevent tragedies like this from ever happening again.”
“We need to do more than just pray for the victims and their families,” Abbott said. “It’s time in Texas that we take action to step up and make sure this tragedy is never repeated ever again.”
That said, we have to question how much this willingness to act is a response to the upcoming November election. Immediately following Gov. Abbott at the press conference was Sen. Ted Cruz, who has received an A+ rating from the NRA. Though Sen. Cruz should have been at the press conference as one of the elected representatives of the state, his presence after Gov. Abbott’s remarks seemed, to me anyway, to throw a shadow over any proposed action. If any of the GOP elected officials from Texas had been serious about gun control after, say, the church shooting in Sutherland Springs or the shooting at a home in Plano last year or any other recent mass shooting, then why wait for this particular horror to announce the proposed new gun laws?
In a year when Gov. Abbott’s position isn’t realistically threatened by his Democratic opponent, whoever that turns out to be, Rep. Beto O’Rourke does have a chance at unseating Sen. Cruz, and in smaller races around the state, Republicans may be defeated by their Democratic rivals. So perhaps Gov. Abbott doesn’t need to speak to moderate voters for his own good, but he does for those candidates in his party.
So, Gov. Abbott may be right about one thing: what we need isn’t more “thoughts and prayers.” And what we need isn’t just announcements of proposals overshadowed by reminders that too many members of his party are beholden to the gun lobby, either.
What we need is solid blue turnout in November.