Gov. Greg Abbott will sign a landmark piece of legislation Tuesday. The school finance reform bill was the centerpiece for not only the 86th legislative session, but also for what appears to be a rebranding effort by the Texas Republican Party, led by the governor himself.
The Austin American-Statesman’s Jonathan Tilove spoke with the governor, who’s already thinking about his 2020 campaign. He says Abbott feels good about his accomplishments during the legislative session, and is more willing to talk to the media because of it. Abbott is branding the GOP in 2020 “the party of results,” and Tilove says he got a head start with that process when he showed overt expressions of unity with Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and House Speaker Dennis Bonnen. During the session, the “Big Three” collaborated on school finance and property tax measures that are now on their way to becoming law.
“I think now, they feel like they’ve emerged with essentially what they wanted,” Tilove says.
The most conservative members and groups had limited influence over how the session proceeded. GOP leaders pushed through bills that increased education spending, and didn’t focus as much on conservative social issues.
“You did have the Big Three solid and together, and I think that their point is, this is not a time to worry about party purity, or getting everything in the party platform. This is a time to fall in line because the party really is in peril going into the next election,” Tilove says.
The risk is real for Republicans. Democrats only need to win nine new seats to take over the Texas House.
“I think they’ve realized that they’ve had an incredible run, but it may not last forever,” Tilove says. “With Donald Trump on the ballot, you are going to have a turnout unlike anything you’ve had before. And in that case, the outcome is very uncertain.”
Written by Shelly Brisbin.