The day before the primary election day, Republicans hoping to make the ballot staged a last-ditch and desperate stunt to curry favor with the extreme members of their party.
Three of Greg Abbott’s challengers: former state senator Don Huffines, former GOP Chair Allen West, and radio host Chad Prather, banded together with Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller in Round Rock to call for a fourth special session to specifically ban healthcare for transgender children.
This demand from Abbott’s three challengers comes a week after the governor sent a letter to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS), ordering the agency to investigate any claim of gender-affirming care as “child abuse.” Abbott’s dangerous directive stemmed from an attorney general opinion authored by Ken Paxton.
At their press conference in Round Rock, Huffines seemingly chided Abbott for relying on Texas departments or courts to enforce his order, noting that many democratic district attorneys would not go along. “This should be legislation,” said Huffines. “What we need is legislation that clearly defines a criminal penalty for a doctor that has anything to do with this: we could take their license and we can put them in jail.”
The three gubernatorial challengers have all challenged Abbott’s conservative credentials in various capacities, and they have all played a part in veering Abbott farther to the right on areas like immigration, vaccine mandates, and school curriculum. Huffines had also previously attacked Abbott for not calling a fourth session to ban gender-affirming care for children.
As for Sid Miller, he has spent the last few weeks campaigning in the state to stave off a challenge from former state Rep. James White. Miller has faced tough questions about his relationship with a former campaign consultant arrested for allegedly trading campaign contributions for hemp licenses.
On the campaign trail, Miller appears to hold no love for Greg Abbott, whom he considered primarying last year. In Round Rock, he criticized Abbott for both the power grid and his response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
One of Miller’s democratic challengers, Susan Hays, took issue with Miller’s call for a fourth session on Twitter.
Primary Election Day is Tuesday, March 1.
Fernando covers Texas politics and government at the Texas Signal. Before joining the Signal, Fernando spent two years at the Houston Chronicle and previously interned at Houston’s NPR station News 88.7. He is a graduate of the University of Houston, Jack J. Valenti School of Communication, and enjoys reading, highlighting things, and arguing on social media. You can follow him on Twitter at @fernramirez93 or email at email@example.com