Some Texans know the wisdom of keeping one ear to the ground to stay alert to possible stampeding herds of buffalo, long-horn cattle or panicked Republicans. This past week seven members of the Electric “Reliability” Council of Texas (ERCOT), six of whom are not Texas residents, have bid a hasty adieu to jobs with six-figure annual salaries. Carpetbaggers, robber barons, bamboozlers, varmints and scoundrels so comfortable at the pinnacle of the Texas power grid just one month ago are now hightailing it for other hideouts in the hills and claiming they are being undeservedly harassed. Gov. Greg Abbott vociferously blames ERCOT for the grid’s collapse, however he appointed all seventeen board members and he will certainly miss their generous donations to his reelection campaign in what some are calling a “pay for play” deal.
But hold on to your saddles because rumors are flying that Robert “Beto” O’Rourke is putting spurs to the notion of stepping into the 2022 Texas gubernatorial race. O’Rourke and his group Powered by People were visible lending helping hands during the power and water crisis by raising over a million dollars in donations and running a phone campaign to check on the welfare of senior citizens. While Abbott helplessly raised hell with his pissant commission, Beto effectively raised relief money for storm victims.
Abbott is hankering for a third term and just like Russia, Texas doesn’t have term limits at the top so if a white-hatted guy doesn’t rescue Texas, snooty polecats like Abbott will stay in power. Someone (yours truly) once called Abbott a Putin-esque piece of dry ice – a remote, emotionless, calculating, callous leader deep in the pockets of the oil, gas and big industry oligarchs. Windy stands pat on that hand after watching the cards he and his gang played in the power outage outrage. Abbott’s on a first-name basis with the bottom of the deck. He persists in courting oil and gas industry barons and cannily promoting fossil fuels to further enrich his $38 million campaign coffer; money from these industries account for 19 percent of his total funds.
Abbott’s approach to global warming and renewable energy policy was called “head in the sand” by Environment Texas spokesperson Luke Metzger. A month before the grid outage Abbott’s public approval rating stood at just 39 percent according to a University of Houston poll. Abbott has now underperformed in two major crises – the COVID-19 pandemic and now the power grid crash. Abbott’s sidekick Dave Carney, his political strategist, says Beto “couldn’t get elected dog catcher,” but Abbott may be the mangy cur O’Rourke can catch if he assuages public concerns by articulating clear, detailed policy stances on key issues such as clean energy, guns and education.
O’Rourke cantered smartly through his U.S. Senate race against Ted Cruz in 2018, coming within a mere three points of Cruz and sweeping all major metropolitan areas. Taking liberties with an old Ernest Tubb song, Beto waltzed across Texas by campaigning in each of Texas’ 254 counties and turning out large, enthusiastic crowds of Democrats and Independents who looked at him with stars in their eyes. His campaign machine was built on an extensive, organized infrastructure of volunteers who raised twice the money detested Cruz scrounged up. Beto’s charming accessibility and enthusiasm for showing up in small town Texas cafes to talk with ordinary folks bolstered the dreams of Democrats and Independents for a future without creepy “Cancun” Cruz. Reports are that Abbott is now growing more concerned about a possible challenge coming from farther right die-hard Trumpsters – so the Republican vote could fracture and further boost O’Rouke’s chances. Yours truly has brushed the cobwebs off those yard signs in the garage and retaped the peeling Beto sticker to the silver Jeep Liberty until new ones become available.