You know what’s kind of weird, I mean in addition to the fact that there’s a fruit called the grape and an unrelated fruit called the grapefruit?
It’s kind of weird when our elected leaders tell us for whom to vote but won’t tell us for whom they voted.
It happened again Tuesday at the Randalls at Slaughter and Brodie lanes in South Austin where Gov. Greg Abbott cast his ballot on the first day of early voting for the March 6 primaries.
Abbott’s seeking renomination and re-election. So are other GOP statewide incumbents, including Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, Attorney General Ken Paxton, Ag Commissioner Sid Miller, Land Commissioner George P. Bush and Comptroller Glenn Hegar. One might think a governor eager to make the case that his party’s doing a great job of running things might be eager to tell us he voted for his fellow incumbents who are running things.
Seems reasonable, right? Sometimes reasonable is not the way things go, in fruit and in politics.
After Abbott voted he went to the cameras and urged people to vote and urged people in the district of Rep. Paul Workman, R-Austin, to vote for Workman in his primary race against Patty Vredevelt and Jay Wiley.
When he was done, I asked Abbott this: “Governor, did you vote for your fellow incumbents Ken Paxton, Sid Miller and George P. Bush.” I chose those three for a reason. Miller faces a serious primary challenge from Trey Blocker (and a less serious one from Jim Hogan). Bush faces a serious primary challenge from former Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson (and longer-shot challengers Rick Range and Davey Edwards).
Paxton’s unopposed in the GOP primary, but I asked Abbott about that race to see if it might have been the first time he voted for somebody under criminal indictment.
Abbott would tell us only how he voted in one race: “Well, as you know Ken, the ballot is secret. It will remain secret. I will reveal one thing for you. I voted for myself.”
No surprise there, and I assume Abbott voted for himself because he thinks he’s done a good job. But what does it mean that he refused to tell us whether he thinks any of his fellow GOP incumbents similarly are doing a good job and had earned his vote in the primary?
Then I asked Abbott this: “So you are willing to tell people in districts in which you don’t live which Republican to vote for but you won’t tell Texans who you voted for?”
The reference was to Abbott’s heavy involvement against GOP lawmakers he and some other GOPers don’t think are GOP enough.
“Well,” Abbott told me, “it’s important as I go about the campaign process in some of these hotly contested races that I want to work with people in those districts to let them know exactly the challenges that I’m facing in dealing with some of these representatives and hence the need for some changes in the Capitol.”
So, he’s pretty much saying, this is about him and perhaps less so about the voters who are free to send the person of their choice to the Capitol.
Follow-up questions delved into those out-of-town legislative races in which Abbott is putting time and money. He chose to speak about state Rep. Sarah Davis, R-West University Place, who tops the list of Republican incumbents on some Republicans’ primary-election hit list.
“Sarah Davis has been acting like a Democrat,” Abbott said, pitching the GOP small-tent mantra. “What she really should do is come out and admit she is a Democrat and run as a Democrat.”
I don’t know about that. But Abbott’s right about this: The ballot is secret. But voters are not barred from saying how they voted. And maybe it’s important that someone like Abbott — an influential someone — tells us how he voted while he’s telling others of us how to vote in elections in which he can’t vote.
The whole business of outside influence on elections came up Monday night during one of Abbott’s periodic telephone town hall meetings with supporters, a call he said attracted 100,000 listeners.
Bobby from Eldorado was among the last callers to ask Abbott a question. Like Abbott, Bobby’s concerned about Democratic money coming into Texas from out of state “sources like (George) Soros and (Barack) Obama.”
“It’s coming in from other states into the state of Texas to influence our elections,” Bobby told the gov, “and seems really not much different than the Russians meddling in our national elections.”
As Brainerd, Minn., police Chief Marge Gunderson sort of said in the great 1996 movie “Fargo,” “I’m not sure I agree with you a hundred percent on your political analogy there, Bobby.” (Brief pause to apologize for purloining and altering that line for my selfish purposes. Also apologies to the unfortunate people who never saw “Fargo.”)
Bobby asked Abbott if there’s “anything specific through our state voting laws that could be passed or done to prevent outside money from other states coming into the state of Texas to try to influence our elections.”
Abbott, who enjoys out-of-state contributions as well as the next politician, knows there isn’t but asked Bobby and others to “make sure we are going to be able to meet and overwhelm their attempt to hijack the state of Texas.”
“We’re going to keep Texas Texas and we’re going to do that block by block, house by house, with the largest grassroots effort in the history of the state of Texas,” Abbott said.
And Republicans will be doing that on behalf of their statewide nominees. Seems like it would be kind of nice to know who the leader of that effort thinks those nominees should be.