Some days ago, fugitive Texas Democrat Gene Wu took to Twitter to snark that he was just days away from realizing his goal of killing voter integrity legislation in his home state. Of course, he sent that tweet from Washington, DC because he and dozens of his colleagues fled the state to deny a quorum and a passing vote via the Republican majority.
Luckily, he found time to do so in between super-spreader events.
In a few more days, I will have accomplished my legislative goal of killing the most partisan anti-voter legislation in the nation.
I'll keep tweeting. You keep crying. https://t.co/9ZSyd8cHBU
— Gene Wu (@GeneforTexas) August 2, 2021
On the merits alone (much less the strategy), the tweet was abject lunacy. Nothing about Texas’ voter integrity law is “the most partisan” anti-voter legislation in the nation. All it does is return things to a pre-pandemic level, including stopping things like 24-hour voting and different types of ballot harvesting mostly happening in Harris County.
But as I wrote at the time, Wu was obviously celebrating on the 10-yard line, and Gov. Greg Abbott just intercepted the pass and ran it back.
I'm convening a second special session on 8/7.
The #txlege must finish the work that was started.
I'll call special session after special session to reform our broken bail system, uphold election integrity, & pass other items Texans demand & deserve. https://t.co/EXoHBR0JTg
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) August 5, 2021
This is exactly what I predicted he’d do, but to be fair, I’m sure just about everyone else not named Wu knew it was going to happen as well. That’s what made the premature victory declaration such a head-scratching moment. Abbott was never going to just let this go after one session, and it appears he’s not going to let it go until the Texas Democrats fully capitulate. The promise to keep calling special session after special session has to be a gut punch for the fugitives.
As I wrote at the beginning of this, they engaged in a game of chicken they can’t win. What was the plan here? I can’t imagine they actually thought Abbott would just fold when it costs him nothing to keep the House in session. Are they really prepared to sit in Washington for another year? I just don’t see that happening.
So what happens now?
The Texas Democrats have two choices: 1) They can come home, make Abbott arrest them for the cameras, and claim that they were victorious for holding out for a month, or 2) they can continue to abandon their families and lives back in Texas in hopes of stalling the election reform bill until the 2022 election.
I’m going with the first option as being the most probable, and I think that’s what Wu was trying to set up when he claimed victory on Twitter three days ago. This has all been one big publicity stunt with no hope of success, and the final act of the performance will be to claim their trip to Washington was a win because they raised awareness about voting rights or something.
Regardless, good on Abbott for playing hardball here. There are a lot of Republican governors (cough Asa Hutchinson cough) who would have never pushed for an arrest warrant or called multiple special sessions to force these Democrats to do the job they are legally bound to do.