Tuesday, May 26, 2020

The Weekly Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance is wearing a mask while watching the coronavirus dashboard for signs of an increase (or decrease) in infections as a result of the state's continuing re-opening.

In a 14-count thread, the TexTrib boils down the differences between those who are wearing facemasks and those who are refusing to.

Andrew Schneider at HPM writes that there is also a political chasm -- and a racial one -- over the expansion of voting by mail in Harris County.  Little Guv Dan Patrick illustrates the distinction.

“There is no reason -- capital N, capital O -- no reason that anyone under 65 should be able to say I am afraid to go vote,” Patrick, a Republican, said in an interview with Fox News. “Have they been to a grocery store? Have they been to Walmart? Have they been to Lowe’s? Have they been to Home Depot? Have they been anywhere? Have they been afraid to go out of their house? This is a scam by the Democrats to steal the election.”

Dan Quinn at the Texas Freedom Network also saw race and politics in the state's Republican leaders’ sorry response to COVID-19.

Here's a smattering of additional pandemic-related developments.

-- Texas leads the nation in the spread of the coronavirus

Sanford Nowlin at the San Antonio Current also found Greg Abbott fibbing about how Texas handles COVID testing data.  And the governor released a PSA urging Texans to wear a mask -- without showing him wearing one.

-- Houston's mayor Sylvester Turner is concerned about three potential hotspots in the nation's fourth-largest city: homeless shelters, jails, and nursing homes.

-- And Living Blue in Texas discovered that the state is outsourcing contact tracing to a company that also developed an election canvassing app.

Kuff has the latest in the various vote-by-mail lawsuits. 

A couple of Lone Star Republicans got big promotions from Trump last week.

The Senate on (May 19) confirmed a conservative Texas lawyer nominated by President Trump to the Federal Election Commission, restoring a voting quorum on the agency for the first time since August amid a mounting backlog of complaints and requests for guidance in an election year.

James E. “Trey” Trainor III, an Austin-based election law attorney, has pushed for less regulation of money in politics and opposed efforts to require politically active nonprofit organizations to disclose their donors. He previously advised the Republican National Committee and Trump during the 2016 election.

The party-line confirmation of Trainor ends the longest period in the agency’s history without a quorum, giving the panel the four votes necessary to regulate and enforce federal campaign finance laws.

With Trainor, the commission is again equally divided ideologically, which could resume the FEC’s practice of often deadlocking on alleged elections violations. Two vacancies remain on the panel, and it is unclear when the Senate will take action to fill them.

More on the Ratcliffe confirmation and the vacancy in Congress it leaves behind from TXElects.

(Ratcliffe's) eventual resignation will leave the CD4 seat vacant until at least January because Gov. Greg Abbott is not expected to order a special election. Ratcliffe is the Republican Party’s nominee for the general election ballot. An August 8 meeting of the CD4 Congressional District Executive Committee has been scheduled to select a replacement Republican nominee for the general election ballot, if they can.

Jason Ross, Ratcliffe’s former district director, and Rockwall council member Trace Johannesen are actively seeking the seat. Former congressional candidates Floyd McLendon, who lost the CD32 primary to Genevieve Collins, and T.C. Manning, who unsuccessfully sought the party’s nomination to challenge U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Houston), are believed to be considering the “race.” Any replacement nominee is highly likely to serve in the next Congress. CD4 was 22 points redder than the state as a whole in 2018 and is trending redder.

Unless there is no replacement nominee, in which case Ratcliffe’s name must either remain on the ballot or, if he withdraws, no Republican would be on the ballot except as a write-in candidate, as happened in CD22 in 2006. If Ratcliffe won the general election, a special election would be needed to fill his vacant seat.

Section 145.036, Election Code provides that a political party may make a replacement nomination “only if” any of three circumstances apply.

Here's more Texas Congressional runoff news:

And the race for the White House warmed up as Joe Biden put his foot in his mouth again.  Several Texas bloggers are making their picks: The Rag Blog's David P. Hamilton will go Green while two of his counterparts, Alice Embree and Jay D. Jurie, are Ridin' with Biden.  DosCentavos noted that Joe had Latino problems last week, too, but thinks they're fixable.  And Jeremy Wallace at the SAEN believes the Trump-Biden contest in Deep-In-The-Hearta will be the closest in decades.

SocraticGadfly offered his take on the documentary-based last chapter in the life of 'Jane Roe', aka Norma Jean McCorvey.

As Texas Democrats get ready for their online state convention this week, the TXGOP plans to meet the old-fashioned way next month.

And a couple of Democrats also got new jobs this past week.

Here's a pair of environmental news stories.

And Downwinders at Risk asks for help from Dallas activists at tomorrow's city council meeting.

We have more activism to report!

And Edinburg Politics posted a lovely remembrance of Lloyd Criss, who passed away earlier this month.

Rep. Lloyd Criss, D-Galveston, a longtime and former state lawmaker who helped champion the labor movement including helping secure rights for farmworkers, addresses a joint session of the Texas Legislature in this image taken in the mid-1980s on the floor of the Texas House of Representatives. Also in this photograph, seated from left, are Texas Speaker of the House Gib Lewis, D-Ft. Worth; U.S. Speaker of the House Jim Wright, D-Ft. Worth; Gov. Bill Clements and his wife Rita.

Let's wrap a long Wrangle with some of the lighter fare.

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