Former Texas state Sen. Don Huffines made quite a splash Saturday during his speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Dallas, Texas. The former lawmaker, who is running to replace Gov. Greg Abbott in the primaries, lashed out at Democrats for demanding that Americans “surrender to open borders, to sexualizing our children, to closing our businesses and killing our babies.”
But some of his harshest words were directed at the man he seeks to unseat. Huffines blasted Gov. Abbott for failing to address the border issue, shutting down the state during the COVID-19 pandemic, and mishandling the electrical grid crash that occurred earlier this year. He said:
“Greg Abbott’s been governor for six years. He could have secured the border six years ago or six months ago. Why isn’t the border secure?”
Huffines continued, pointing out that Abbott “put 3 million Texans on unemployment and dependent on the government in one day” and that the governor “closed all of our churches on the holiest week of the year, Easter.”
The former state lawmaker savaged Abbott for failing to address the electrical grid situation during February’s winter storm. He said:
“Earlier this year, we were within four minutes of our electrical grid having a complete meltdown and sending us all into the Stone Age. Texas is the energy capital of the world. It’s another embarrassment of failed leadership … they can’t even keep the lights on.”
The storm taxed the state’s energy infrastructure to its limits and left millions of Texans without water or electricity — some for over a week. Several people lost their lives due to the disaster.
But that wasn’t all. Huffines criticized Abbott for failing to prevent a clinic from carrying out “sexual mutilation, chemical castrations, and sex change surgeries on children.”
Gov. Abbott did not attend the conference because he is busy with a special session in the Texas legislature.
Huffines is not the only person challenging Abbott during the upcoming primaries. Lt. Col. Allen West, who recently stepped down from his position as chairman of the Texas GOP after serving for only one year, has also thrown his hat into the ring.
A victory for Huffines seems like a long shot. However, the audience vigorously applauded each time he attacked Abbott, suggesting that the governor may not enjoy as much support as it might seem. Indeed, the candidate’s criticism of Texas’ chief executive seem to reflect what many Republican voters in the Lone Star state believe. He, along with West, will likely try to tap into the frustrations that many right-leaning voters feel.
Still, it’s worth remembering that Abbott has been personally endorsed by former President Donald Trump, whose blessing goes a long way with conservatives. Moreover, he has recently made some moves to ingratiate himself with the base. He announced that he would be sending National Guard troops to the border to assist U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in dealing with the worsening migrant crisis. He has also committed to helping to complete the border wall.
At this point, it is not easy to predict how the primary race will pan out. But one thing is clear, Texas Republican voters seem more keen on action than mere words — which is a lesson that Abbott might learn the hard way.