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Texas Democrats expect to focus on grid failures as a winning campaign strategy for 2022

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Democrats in Texas want to talk about the power grid.

Specifically, I believe that the leaders of the state as a whole will be responsible for how it failed in February, why it thinks it hasn’t done enough to fix it. I would like to talk about why I am.

Democratic candidates and strategists see the power grid as the Republican’s greatest vulnerability. He emphasizes the power grid as the best shot to win crossover voters in the state’s 2022 election cycle, which is expected to be a difficult battle for the minority.

In an election speech and a message to supporters, Democrats said GOP leaders in a state where millions of Texas people lost power for several days during a winter storm in February and died. He states that he was unable to fix the shortcomings of the energy infrastructure. It is calculated as a range of 210 to 700 or more.

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Front runner Beto O’Rourke, who is vying for governor with Republican Greg Abbott, said the second-term incumbent “did nothing” in the warning, despite the power outage before 2011. One of the top priorities of his campaign is the slogan “Fix the damn grid”. “Keep the lights on!” Said Luke Warford, who is running for a seat on the Texas Railroad Commission, which regulates the state’s oil and gas industry. His campaign slogan.

Jim Henson, director of the Texas Political Project at the University of Texas at Austin, said: “About the extended Republican monopoly, the only good thing for the Democrats [in state politics] And their proven ability to break that monopoly is that there is only one party that can be blamed. “

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However, Republican leaders are defending their record, pointing out more than 12 legislation passed during this year’s legislative session to address the credibility of the grid.

Abbott categorically claims that the grid is “better than ever” and will not fail again.

“Everything needed to repair the Texas power grid has been done,” Abbott said in June.

However, just two weeks ago, the group managing the grid released its own analysis, and despite the state’s actions since February, the grid remains vulnerable to power outages during harsh winter weather. I showed that.

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After the storm, legislators renewed the governance of the Public Utility Commission, which regulates utilities, and the Texas Electric Reliability Council, a non-profit quasi-government agency that manages the grid. They also passed legislation aimed at improving grid readiness for frigid weather, but did not set strict deadlines for when upgrades would need to be completed, allowing natural gas producers to have their own weather resistance. We were able to delay the start of sexual efforts.

Democrats say that’s not enough — and many voters agree.

According to an October poll by the University of Texas / Texas Tribune, 60% of Texas voters said they were disapproved of how state leaders treated the reliability of their power networks. Only 18% have been approved.

For the Democrats, who face unfavorable odds after the constituency change and face traditionally difficult midterm elections while the party’s president is in office, the grid problem brings invasion to voters who traditionally do not support the party.

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Of the nonpartisan voters, 61% oppose working on the state grid. Even 45% of Republicans are disapproved. Forty-three percent of local voters, who have struggled to attract Democrats for decades, are also dissatisfied with the state’s efforts on this issue.

Matthew Dowd, running for Vice Governor, called it a “populist message” that could appeal to a wide range of voters.

“It goes to local voters, Hispanic voters, urban voters,” he said. “While wealthy companies make money, the average Texas was left behind.”

According to Henson, the challenge for Democrats is that the power grid is not the primary concern of voters.

“When we ask people, what do you think is the biggest problem facing the nation?” It doesn’t come out in a hurry, “said voters on issues such as border security and immigration. He added that he was more interested.

Republican political consultant Corbyn Castile also questioned the prominence of the problem.

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“I don’t think it will appear in the top 20 [Republicans] Also [Democrats]”He said,” It’s not about “whether it’s important.” It’s about what drives the votes. “

Castel, a lobbyer in the oil and gas industry, said GOP state officials took action to address some of the shortcomings that led to grid failures, a winter like the state experienced in February. Said that the storm is unlikely to occur for two years. line.

“The Democrats have a lot of despair looking for something to stick with, but I don’t think this is the case,” he said.

But the Democratic Party says the issue is resonating with voters.

“There was no place in Texas I visited that wasn’t interested in hearing about it,” Collier said. “You don’t have to spend time explaining to people how dangerous the situation is, and you don’t have to explain that you didn’t do anything to fix the grid.”

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At a rally in McAllen in November, Oroke blasted Abbott’s response to a power outage, saying its ties to the oil and gas industry “explain everything.” In June, billionaire Kelsey Warren donated $ 1 million to Abbott’s campaign. According to Bloomberg, Transfer Partners have earned $ 2.4 billion from a winter storm.

“Despite the tragedy and loss of life, the governor did nothing again for the people of Texas,” O’Rourke said.

Abbott repelled O’Rourke’s criticism.

“Bet O’Rourke thrives on misinformation and horror tactics and continues his campaign to hide from free border opening, law enforcement and murder policies,” said Mark, a spokesman for the Abbott campaign. Minor states. “As for the grid, the truth is that Governor Abbott has signed 14 bills that improve the robustness and resilience of the grid and ensure the reliable provision of electricity services to all Texans.”

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But Abbott gets it from both sides. Former Republican Senator Don Huffines and former Republican Chairman and Florida Parliamentarian Allen West, who are his major Republican challengers, have also criticized the response to the winter blackout.

“The Texans deserves a governor who can keep the lights on,” Huffins said in a press release.

Deputy Governor Dan Patrick, who oversees the Senate and runs for reelection, also rejected criticism that state leaders did not act. Patrick said in a statement that he promoted the replacement of all members of the PUC and ERCOT boards, keeping new members of these boards “higher standards of transparency and accountability.” Added.

But several times this year, Patrick complained about the work done by the Legislature and told Texas Latin conservatives last month that “there’s still more work to do on the grid.”

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Patrick led an aggressive push to cancel $ 3 billion in electricity prices during a winter storm. This can be passed on to the payer. The Senate approved the bill, but the House did not pick it up because it could disrupt the international energy market.

Patrick did not hide the inaction of the House of Representatives and his frustration with his leader, Republican Speaker Dade Phelan.

“With widespread bipartisan support, the Texas Senate has passed a law requiring price revisions to return money to payers. House leadership has members vote on these issues. Refused to allow, “Patrick said.

Ferrand defended House’s response to the grid’s failure, saying the Chamber of Commerce would continue to hold regulators accountable “to prevent the grid from failing again.”

“Lieutenant. Governor Patrick has been posting since 2015 without prioritizing the grid, but in my second month as a speaker, he first demanded action and accountability after the deadly grid collapse. Was a house, “he said in a statement. “The House’s approach to grid reform was to save lives in the future, but it remains unclear who will benefit from the motivation behind it and the Senate’s approach.”

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Political scientist and pollster Henson said the parties are betting that their side will be proven shortly after winter. As the grid is maintained and the state reaches spring without major incidents, voters move on to the next big political issue.

However, the similarity of grid failures can sink some Republicans.

“Another serious problem with the state’s energy grid will change that and undoubtedly create opportunities for Democrats,” he said.

Disclosure: The University of Texas at Austin is a financial supporter of the Texas Tribune, a non-profit, independent news organization partially funded by donations from members, foundations, and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in tribune journalism. Find a complete list of them here.

Texas Democrats expect to focus on grid failures as a winning campaign strategy for 2022

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