This Week in Texas Politics: Gun violence dominates hot political week

Gun violence following the mass shooting in Uvalde has dominated another hot political week, especially in Texas politics. FOX 7 Austin's Rudy Koski and our panel of analysts take a look.

Read the full transcript of the discussion below:

RUDY KOSKI: This Week in Texas Politics was dominated once again by the tragic school shooting in Uvalde. The school safety, mental health, gun debate, as expected, has become part of the governor's race, with another call for a special session and questions about where is Democrat Beto O'Rourke. Even Matthew McConaughey got involved calling for some type of common ground, common sense compromise. 

Other familiar issues are also heating up this week like the Congressional House Democrats going primetime with the January 6 Capitol riot hearing, new questions emerging about the power grid, will it hold this summer and will the market reform plan go far enough? The governor also spent the week planning for yet another large migrant caravan that's heading to Texas. 

All right. Let's get things started with our headlines for the week from our panel. And we'll start first with Greg Groogan, FOX 26 Houston. Greg, what's your headline? 

GREG GROOGAN: January 6 Committee. You can lead Americans to water, but you can't make all of them drink. 

RUDY KOSKI: Brian Smith with St Edward's University. Brian, what's your headline? 

BRIAN SMITH: It's Austin versus the legislature again this time the issues, gun control. 

RUDY KOSKI: And political analyst Mark Wiggins. What's your headline? 

MARK WIGGINS: January 6 panel captures prime time. 

RUDY KOSKI: Brian, let's start with you. Where's Beto? 

BRIAN SMITH: Beto is keeping a low profile right now because so much is going on. If he gets out in front of the gun control debate and is on the wrong side or pushes something that he's not going to be able to enact, he's going to get the flip flopper label attached to him or they're going to say he's unable to handle the issue. 

GREG GROOGAN: I think right now he's taking a deep breath. Look, his confrontation of the governor and the lieutenant governor in Uvalde was controversial. I don't think a lot of people like it. I mean, some people said it needed to be done. I think he's got to step back and see if this is a winning issue for him. 

MARK WIGGINS: I think pulling it off of what Brian and Greg just said, you know, a lot of people, I think, viewed Beto's positions on guns as a liability early on in this campaign. But it may well be that the pendulum has swung back in his direction and he is out front with a popular message now. The question is, does that keep through November? 

RUDY KOSKI: Here's a question for all three. Do we have gun reform this summer or do we see grid reform stick? 


BRIAN SMITH: Neither is going to happen. 

GREG GROOGAN: Zero chance of a special session. They'll wait till January. 

RUDY KOSKI: Does the power grid and this migrant caravan become the new big issue of the summer and starts pushing the gun debate away until next year? 

GREG GROOGAN: The Texas grid is kind of like my 2006 Camry. It runs good right up until it doesn't. 

MARK WIGGINS: The main problem is that the energy market is still designed to incentivize scarcity. And until that market is redesigned, we're going to continue to ride this knife's edge where we're wondering, will we keep the power on? 

BRIAN SMITH: I think immigration becomes an issue if the Biden administration fails to make good on their promise to address those root issues that they talked about in 2021. 

RUDY KOSKI: So is the big political gorilla of the summer inflation, the economy, Greg?

GREG GROOGAN: I talked to people in my newsroom. I talked to people in the street and their budgets are being squeezed hard. They're canceling vacation plans. 

RUDY KOSKI: Mark, does education get any traction in the summer going into the fall? 

MARK WIGGINS: If that anger continues through to the fall, then yeah, I think you could see this making a big impact on the elections. But to your point, you know, I think the 800lbs gorilla in this upcoming election is still the economy. 

RUDY KOSKI: Brian, the governor directed TEA to create a school safety chief position to make sure that all school districts are following safety protocols that the legislature has enacted. Is that a win for him?

BRIAN SMITH: Well, it's a win in the sense that he's showing action, but it's still not going to be enough to really address the issue, especially among his critics. He's going to say, listen, we're doing something. I still think for right now, like Mark was saying, there's a big push to do more and he's going to eventually have to address that issue. 

MARK WIGGINS: Yeah, I'd add to what Brian is saying, and that's what Brian is saying. You know, the response to the Uvalde shooting right now is exactly the same as the response to the Santa Fe shooting in 2018. And I don't think that parents are going to give anyone a pass now if the same results come of it. They're going it is not going to be enough this time around to just hold committee hearings and come out with some vague, generic recommendations. Parents are not going to think that's enough. 

GREG GROOGAN: I got to ask the question, why the heck didn't we get a school safety czar after Santa Fe? I mean, come on. 

RUDY KOSKI: And with that, let's wrap up the week with our one word. And we'll start with Mark Wiggins. Your word for the week, Mark

MARK WIGGINS: Insurrection. 

RUDY KOSKI: Brian Smith, your word. 


RUDY KOSKI: Greg Groogan, your word for the week? 

GREG GROOGAN: Zealotry. 

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