AUSTIN, Texas - Like the temperatures outside, the topics this week in Texas politics, we're running red-hot.
The Democrats kicking off their convention party in Dallas with hopes of rallying support, not just for Beto O'Rourke, but also for down ballot candidates. Meanwhile, Republicans are trying to crush that party with their own show of unity and new diversity.
A financial update from the comptroller's office shows the state is pulling in a lot more revenue, despite inflation at a 40-year-high. Lt Gov. Dan Patrick immediately put out his wish list upon hearing that report, saying he wants to cut the state gas tax and provide an extra teacher retirement paycheck.
The border and gun control. They remain hot topics with Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz making a South Texas tour. And gun control advocates taking a trip to where Senator Cruz lives with a school bus protest.
RUDY KOSKI: "We'll start first with the QuorumReport.com, Scott Braddock. Scott, what's your headline?"
SCOTT BRADDOCK: "Nearly $30 million."
RUDY KOSKI: "Brian Smith with St. Edward's University. What's your headline?"
BRIAN SMITH: "Democrats want to have a smooth convention in a building named after a Republican."
RUDY KOSKI: "And Patrick Svitek with the Texas Tribune. What's your headline?"
PATRICK SVITEK: "Beto's governor's race. A little understated, I guess."
TEXAS DEMOCRATS UNITY PARTY CONVENTION
RUDY KOSKI: "And let's talk about that convention that's kicking off on Friday. How important is this show of unity for the Democrats, Patrick?"
PATRICK SVITEK: "Yeah, I think that this is unity is definitely what they're aiming for here, especially after the Republican Party convention where we saw some infighting. But to be clear, they also have some internal drama as well. Their chairperson, Gilberto Hinojosa, is facing two challengers for reelection."
SCOTT BRADDOCK: "Patrick's right that they have, you know, some infighting for the chairmanship, and we'll see how that goes. But at the same time, I think people kind of misunderstand the role of the parties. I mean, when it comes to the Republicans, the person who's really putting up the money and getting things done is Greg Abbott. And so for the Democrats, the person who's really going to get that organizational stuff done is going to be Beto O'Rourke. And he has the resources to do that."
BRIAN SMITH: "The Democrats, though, here's a real chance for them to pass some common sense policies that will attract those independent voters and maybe the Republicans that they're going to need to win. If they come out of the convention unified, but still too far to the left. Not going to be good in the fall."
INFLATION UP/GAS PRICE DROP
RUDY KOSKI: "There's been a lot of issues this summer, but the base issue, despite all the hot topics, has been the economy. Inflation at a 40-year-high, gas prices soaring, but now gas prices are going down. Does that hurt the Republicans? Are things improving? And then by November, is it better, and the race gets tighter? Scott?"
SCOTT BRADDOCK: "The economy, of course, is always number one because of all the issues that we're talking about and considering it's the one that does impact everyone, the other issues impact the groups of people and in some cases, huge groups of people. But the economy is number one and impacting everybody. But it's a very different electoral environment from what it was even a couple of months ago. You have the overturning of Roe v Wade. You have the gun violence in Uvalde, you have all these other issues that really hit people in their core."
BORDER VOTER FATIGUE
RUDY KOSKI: "Patrick, no doubt there's a crisis on the border, but do you think voters have border fatigue."
PATRICK SVITEK: "While border and the economy, I think, remain at the top of that list? Some issues below them have seen some movement."
BUDGET SURPLUS PROMISES
RUDY KOSKI: "During the pandemic. The Democrats, especially up in Congress, were accused of trying to buy the upcoming election with COVID relief money. Well, now the state of Texas is flush with a lot more money. And Dan Patrick was really quick to come out and say, let's cut the gas tax. Let's give teachers an extra retirement check. Is this just more political hypocrisy or is this a good move?"
SCOTT BRADDOCK: "I'm not surprised by it. But with that much money in the bank, there are other things they could do with it."
BRIAN SMITH: "When I grew up in the Northeast. We talked about street money on Election Day. This is another form of street money. The gas tax, the gas tax cut is something that voters would feel doesn't have a lot of impact. But definitely another form of street money, kind of using state revenue to try to encourage people to vote one way."
PATRICK SVITEK: "Just on the surface, I think its good politics."
GOVERNOR’S RACE POLL
RUDY KOSKI: "A Poll by the University of Houston shows that the governor's race continues to tighten up. But what was really surprising was that Abbott has lost a lot of support with women who took part in that survey. Scott, is that a red flag?"
SCOTT BRADDOCK: "Well, I think he needs to watch that. Let's say it this way. Not just women, but women who either have voted for Republicans, or are open to voting for Republicans, who now are very upset with Republicans about a lot of issues."
RUDY KOSKI: "Patrick, the grid remains in the news. Does the grid remain in play throughout the summer into the fall to November?
PATRICK SVITEK: "This is, I think, Abbott's worst issue heading into this November election."
BRIAN SMITH: "He owns this issue. The grid crashes. He can't point the finger at Joe Biden. He can't go down and take video at the border. This is all him."
PATRICK SVITEK: "Yeah, I think that's a great point. You can't force this issue into the national environment. This is a Texas. Texas only issue."
SCOTT BRADDOCK: "I could envision an election night in November. That's great for Republicans everywhere except Texas, if something goes wrong with the grid."
ONE WORD FOR THE WEEK
RUDY KOSKI: And with that, let's wrap up this week in Texas politics with our one word for the week. We'll start off with Brian. Brian, your word for the week?"
BRIAN SMITH: "ERCOT."
RUDY KOSKI: "Patrick, your word for the week?"
PATRICK SVITEK: "26.7; the Beto fundraising number."
RUDY KOSKI: "And Scott, your word for the week."
SCOTT BRADDOCK: "Put them together. Rolling-blackout."
RUDY KOSKI: "And with that, we're wrapping up another week in Texas politics."