High-stakes campaigning, party in-fighting: This Week in Texas Politics

This Week in Texas Politics involved a lot of digging in, indicating that it may be a very long and hot summer here in Texas.

FOX 7 Austin's Rudy Koski and our panel of political analysts discuss.

RUDY KOSKI: Let's get our headlines this week, and we'll start first with Brad Johnson with the Texas News. Brad, what's your headline?

BRAD JOHNSON: The GOP circular firing squad takes San Antonio.  

RUDY KOSKI: Annie Spilman with Main Street Relations. What's your headline?  

ANNIE SPILMAN: Unlike other states, Texas lags behind in toll discounts.  

RUDY KOSKI: Political analyst Mark Wiggins: your headline for the week.  

MARK WIGGINS: The Convention of Chaos.

RELATED: Texans concerned about economy, immigration: poll

RUDY KOSKI: Early voting in the primary runoffs wrapping up this week with all eyes focused on the race involving House Speaker Dade Phelan. Brad, a lot of money is being pumped into this one. Are you surprised?  

BRAD JOHNSON: I've heard that it's possible we'll see upwards of $12 million spent on both sides of it, including all, you know, outside groups.  

ANNIE SPILMAN: I mean, it was a good session for business groups. There was a lot of regulatory relief that happened under the leadership of Speaker Phelan. He got a big get-out-the-vote rally with former Governor Rick Perry, who was very business friendly. Still is.

RUDY KOSKI: Well, certainly that race is a big topic statewide and also a big topic at the Republican state convention that is underway this week. And, you know, there's a lot of obsession over the House Speaker. It seems like that that's the main topic, going on down there. And there's nothing else. But there is a lot more. Right, Mark?  

MARK WIGGINS: Under the current leadership, you know, the RPT has lost staff. It's lost funding. And quite frankly, it's lost relevance. I mean, especially when it's spending money attacking other Republicans. So if Republicans are going to continue to be successful in the state, especially in those down ballot races, they're going to have to start growing the party instead of purging it.

MORE: Texas Sen. Ted Cruz files bill to protect IVF

RUDY KOSKI: The Texas Democrats have been throwing a lot of shade at the Texas Republicans in the convention. But, you know, they're involved in their own meltdown, too. And so, while those parties are trying to figure out who they are, the Texas Lyceum poll came out this week with a poll and a survey saying Texans are more focused on the economy. And I know that business groups there really have been screaming a lot lately in regard to, it's about the economy, it's about the inflation. Do something.  

ANNIE SPILMAN: The poll really pointed to economic anxiety, and inflation has increased the cost of pretty much everything in the state of Texas. Anxiety and uncertainty can really cripple our local businesses and its impact on our community.  

RUDY KOSKI: Hard liners digging in, is just not a Republican thing. Six Texas Congressional Democrats voting on Capitol Hill against a House resolution to ban non-citizens from voting in DC elections. Greg Casar, Lloyd Doggett among those now on record supporting the idea. Non-citizens participating in a local election. Mark that may not hurt them with their base, but that isn't really good for the overall party, right?  

MARK WIGGINS: Well, you just got to look back to that same Lyceum poll and many, many polls beforehand. Rudy, the border remains a top issue for Texans, and that doesn't matter what party you're in or how close you live to the Rio Grande. If I'm consulting Democrats, I'm going to tell them you need to have a strong position on that issue.

RUDY KOSKI: The Texas Lyceum poll also showed that Donald Trump has a ten-point lead here in Texas. So, Ted Cruz, while he was in state, Trump being in state last week, and he's coming back next week, several Texas Republicans went up to New York for the last day of Trump's hush money trial. Brad, is that just political coat tailing or is there a real strong purpose for that?  

BRAD JOHNSON: I think it's more of them, you know, showing their support for the president. In the current situation, going forward, that will be returned again, I'm sure.  

MARK WIGGINS: You know, I think as more people start to think Trump may win this thing, you're going to see more of them do what is required to get into his good graces. 


RUDY KOSKI: As for the border battle, Gov. Greg Abbott on social media this week has been providing updates on the new base camp that's being built along the Rio Grande and the border wall construction. Annie, is this, the governor just simply saying "Come and Take it?"

ANNIE SPILMAN: Well, I don't know how many of you remember MTV Cribs, but this reminds me of one of those episodes with the governor welcoming the president virtually, into his view, aerial view, of the forward operating base in Eagle Pass. He's definitely flaunting his Texas-built base camp and challenging the feds to come and take it.  

RUDY KOSKI: Well, Texas and the feds fighting: That's certainly nothing new, but this week, Ken Paxton teamed up with the Biden administration DOJ and a lawsuit against LiveNation, the parent company of Ticketmaster. Brad, should we be checking the temperature and hell, what's going on?  

BRAD JOHNSON: This Ken Paxton and Taylor Swift uniting together? I don't know. You know, one thing that caught my eye with this, the release from the attorney general he was touting. It's the 75th lawsuit against the Biden administration. That marketing just goes perfectly for him. And obviously, he's taken advantage of it. That's the big takeaway, I thought.  


RUDY KOSKI: All right, let's end it there. And we're going to wrap up this week with one word. And we'll start first with Mark. Mark, your word.  


ANNIE SPILMAN: Graduation.  


RUDY KOSKI: And with that, we're wrapping up another Week in Texas Politics.