This Week in Texas Politics: Wildfires, education, cyber warfare

This week in Texas politics saw many social media fights over the state of the economy and the potential for a recession, immigration, and preparing for a new school year. FOX 7 Austin's Rudy Koski and our panel of political analysts break it down.


RUDY KOSKI: Some of the political fights that we saw this week in Texas politics were political cyber warfare. For example, Senators Cruz and Cornyn posting on social media throughout the week. They took shots at the Biden administration's recession denials as well as the Democrats' new tax hike that they call the inflation relief plan. There was also a lot of tweeting about efforts to save the computer chip bill. 

Some very unsocial media punches were also thrown between the chairman of the Texas GOP and the spokesperson for the Texas Democrats. Gov. Greg Abbott and his migrant bus trips to the Northeast are also getting the attention of mayors of New York and D.C., both crying for help this week. And a state House committee held a contentious two-day education hearing just as students are about to return to school.


RUDY KOSKI: Let's get our headlines for the week from our panel. And we'll start first with political analyst Mark Wiggins. Mark, what’s your headline for the week?

MARK WIGGINS: With vouchers in the air, Texas schools hang in the balance. 

RUDY KOSKI: Bryan Smith with St. Edwards University. What's your headline for the week? 

BRIAN SMITH: Recessions are like obscenity. You know it when you see it.

RUDY KOSKI: And Holly Hansen with the online news outlet The Texan. Holly, what's your headline for the week?

HOLLY HANSEN: Word games don’t alleviate economic pain. 


RUDY KOSKI: And let's start off a little bit with this political cyber warfare that's going on. Brian, it seems like instead of running ads, everyone's going to social media. How long can this last? 

BRIAN SMITH: Indefinitely. Social media has no overhead. It's fast. You can be as nasty as you want to be as long as you're within the character limit. So we're going to see this go all the way through Election Day into the session and the foreseeable future. 

HOLLY HANSEN: I think a recent Pew Research study showed that about 23% of American adults are on Twitter. But that gets amplified in our media. Now, we even run stories just based on what politicians say on their Twitter feed.

MARK WIGGINS: You're in the doldrums right now. Congress is headed to recess, very few people are actively campaigning, and really the only ones paying attention to politics right now are folks like us.


RUDY KOSKI: We've got some political word gamesmanship going on in regards to are we in a recession or not? How does this play out? Do you feel like the people really care how you define it?

HOLLY HANSEN: I don't think so. We can play all the word games we want. But the reality is most Americans, poor and middle class Americans, are seeing what's happening at the grocery store and at the gas pump.

BRIAN SMITH: It is the economy, stupid, and recession or not. If you're able to spin a bad economic message against your opponent, it can work. We think about 1992. We were out of that recession, but President Clinton was able to use that all the way up to Election Day. And it worked. 

MARK WIGGINS: You know, these are nerds debating nerds. When people care about is the gas prices are going down, that's good. But inflation is still high. That's bad.


RUDY KOSKI: Brian, the governor's migrant bus trips initially just didn't seem to be successful. But now all of a sudden, the mayors of New York City and D.C. are crying for help. Is it sticking now? Is that issue really hitting home now? 

BRIAN SMITH: Any time places like New York or D.C. say it's a bad thing, that's more ammunition for the governor.

HOLLY HANSEN: And we're showing the rest of the country that it can be difficult for them to manage as well. It's reality. 


RUDY KOSKI: A House committee held a two-day hearing on education. They were kind of split up, but both issues very contentious. Mark, you attended those hearings. What struck you the most? 

MARK WIGGINS: What we saw this week that I think was noteworthy was really the opening salvo in the battle over whether Texas is going to keep a free public education system. 

HOLLY HANSEN: I think there's a correlation there with the interest in expanding school choice in the state of Texas. You know, they're more interested now in looking at other ways that they can empower parents and give them options when they're choosing the best education for their own children. 

BRIAN SMITH: And we're seeing the battle lines being drawn right now. And like Mark said, we see some of how they're going to break down with vouchers, with school choice, teacher shortages, CRT, all of these things are going to be on the agenda, and we're going to hear about it day one of the session. 


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


RUDY KOSKI: Brian, your word for the week?

BRIAN SMITH: Wildfires. 

RUDY KOSKI: And Holly, your word for the week?

HOLLY HANSEN: Gaslighting. 

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