The closer we get to Sine Die, the official adjournment of the Texas Legislature, the faster things move in the Texas Legislature, and if the beginning of this week is any indication, the rest of Texas felt left out.
Here’s a quick recap of what’s happening around the state, and what we’re keeping our eyes on.
The biggest piece of news that surfaced yesterday was the shocking resignation of Tarrant County Elections Administrator Heider Garcia. Garcia is widely regarded as one of the finest election administrators in Texas, with a former Secretary of State once going so far as to refer to him as “a model for elections administrators.”
Garcia has run elections in the state’s third-largest county since 2018, and has run some exceptionally smooth elections despite an unprecedented pandemic and the chaos caused by former President Donald Trump’s lies around the 2020 elections.
In fact, Garcia had drawn praise from many supposed “election integrity” advocates by going out of his way to engage with them, take their questions, and provide thoughtful responses. Despite some hot tempers in 2021 and 2022, Garcia kept a cool head and Tarrant County had strong and safe elections as a result.
Garcia attributed his departure in a resignation letter obtained by the Forth Worth Star-Telegram to the political machinations of Tarrant’s new County Judge, Tim O’Hare. O’Hare is a hardline conservative who largely focused his campaign on election integrity issues while claiming the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump.
In the letter, Garcia wrote “When leadership respects the team’s values and shows trust, members of the team become the best version of themselves. … Judge O’Hare, my formula to ‘administer a quality transparent election’ stands on respect and zero politics; compromising on these values is not an option for me. You made it clear in our last meeting that your formula is different, thus, my decision is to leave.”
While Garcia declined to respond to press comments, a number of election officials from across Texas took to social media or responded to reporters by describing the resignation as a huge loss for Tarrant County and clean elections.
We’ll continue to watch this story closely, as Tarrant County has steadily gone from the last major metropolitan area in Texas controlled by Republican elected officials to more of a purple, bellwether county in statewide elections. Will the new elections administrator focus on keeping elections in Tarrant County fair and free? We’ll be watching.
Busy Day at the Cap
There is a lot moving at the Cap today, including a press conference hosted by Texas Gun Sense and featuring families from Uvalde, and State Senator Roland Gutierrez, who represents Uvalde in the State Senate and has been leading the charge on more than 20 common sense gun reforms this session.
The presser comes immediately before a 9am meeting of the House Select Committee on Community Safety, at which the key pieces of gun safety legislation will be heard.
The battle over local control continues with a terrible bill that would preempt key labor protections, including protecting water breaks for workers laboring under the hot Texas sun all summer. We published an important op-ed about this fight from Dallas City Councilmember Adam Bazaldua yesterday that you can read here right now.
What’s happening with Bryan Slaton? Since accusations surfaced last week that Slaton, a far-right conservative who has largely built his reputation on a platform of Christian nationalism and hate against LGBTQ Texans, invited an underage intern to his Austin apartment where he provided them with alcohol before having sex, Slaton has retained an attorney to represent him before the investigative committee looking at the incident.
Talk is spreading like wildfire that some of Slaton’s fellow hardline conservatives are eagerly looking for a bus to throw him under, and may call for a vote to expel Slaton, a former pastor, from the Texas House. He has been present on the floor in recent days, raising the cringe factor at the capitol to untold levels.
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Joe brings over a decade of experience as a political operative and creative strategist to Texas Signal, where he serves as our Senior Advisor and does everything from writing a regular column, Musings, to mentoring our staff and freelancers. Joe was campaign manager for Lina Hidalgo's historic 2018 victory for Harris County Judge and is a passionate sneakerhead.