Today’s Texas Standard was broadcast live from the Texas Tribune Festival in Austin – a weekend of panels, parties and networking for political junkies, not only from Texas, but representing many political and media stripes from around the nation.
Host David Brown spoke with Evan Smith, CEO of the Texas Tribune, and Indira Lakshmanan, columnist for the Boston Globe, and Newmark Chair in Journalism Ethics at the Poynter Institute, about Texas’ place in national politics.
Evan Smith on Texas’ complicated relationship with national politics during the Trump era:
We didn’t like the last administration. We were as surprised as anybody [to get] an administration that was more to our liking. I think we assumed that the administration would enable all our hopes and dreams to come true. Some of that is the case, but in some areas of public policy, like immigration and the border, we’re still waiting to see what happens.
Indira Lakshmanan on whether Texas’ style of government attracts attention nationally:
Nationally, I think all attention is focused on Washington… I do get a sense that because of President Trump’s rhetoric, and his unprecedented behavior on so many things, love him or hate him…he’s so different, that I think that’s where most eyes are focused on outside of Texas politics.
Smith on whether a liberal Democrat is likely to defeat Gov. Greg Abbott in 2018:
…Whoever the Democratic nominee for governor in 2018, and we don’t yet know the identity of that person, it won’t make a difference because Greg Abbott intends to run against Nancy Pelosi and George Soros. This has become commonplace in Texas. The Democratic Party in Texas is so weak, and the Democratic candidates have no prospect of winning, that Republicans turn their attention to national Democrats as a way to raise money and attention.
Lakshmanan on Abbott’s higher national profile after Hurricane Harvey:
[Abbott] certainly got a national stage, unfortunately because of Hurricane Harvey. All of his statements were magnified on national broadcast,and I think that raised his profile for people outside of Texas.
Smith on Harvey’s impact on Texas’ national profile:
This is a moment for not Republicans or Democrats, but for Texans. And after the hurricane hit, most people..understood that this was not a time for politics. And the governor was very visible, he was very active, and he demonstrated what a governor needs to do at the time of a crisis… And he will get a boost nationally.