Governor Abbott highlights support for Texas law enforcement

Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, in campaign appearances with representatives of local law enforcement organizations for two days this week, stepped up his attacks on rival Beto O’Rourke, saying the El Paso Democrat is “a crook” that would destroy the Texas energy industry. and pursue policies that compromise public safety.

Abbott, seeking a third term in the Nov. 8 election, said O’Rourke was aligned with the “defund the police” movement that arose during the 2020 election cycle in response to several high-profile shootings. blacks by law enforcement officers. Across the country. And the governor touted legislation he signed last year that limits state funding to local governments that cut law enforcement spending.

“Beto’s approach to defunding the police is an extremely dangerous approach, a deadly approach,” Abbott said during an appearance in Fort Worth on Wednesday, where that city’s police union chief and union chief of the Austin police have officially endorsed the governor’s re-election. effort. Abbott made a similar comment during an appearance a day earlier with Houston police union leaders.

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The O’Rourke camp has pushed back on the claim that it is lenient with criminals.

“Greg Abbott is desperately trying to distract Texans from the fact that violent crime in this state is on the rise in every area under his watch while rates of bringing violent criminals to justice in Texas have dropped dramatically with him,” campaign spokesman Chris Evans said. said in an email. “Homicides alone are up more than 50% – TWICE the national rate – since he was governor.”

In several of his own campaign appearances, O’Rourke hammered Abbott for ignoring the concerns of police who opposed the state’s new law that allows Texans to carry handguns without training. or obtain licenses.

In response to a reporter’s question about energy policy during the Fort Worth appearance, Abbott warned that O’Rourke had taken positions that would slow oil and gas production in Texas, which is leading the country’s resurgence. in the traditional energy sector.

Abbott said O’Rourke, in his short-lived bid for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, was a supporter of the energy and climate initiative commonly known as the Green New Deal. But now that he’s running for governor in the nation’s largest oil and gas-producing state, O’Rourke has changed his stance.

“He said, and I quote, ‘Yes, I support the Green New Deal,’ end of quote,” Abbott said. “The Green New Deal would dismantle the oil and gas industry as we now know it in the state of Texas. Now when he comes forward for another job he says he supports oil and gas jobs in the state of Texas. State of Texas.

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“Beto has a credibility problem. He’s a crook who preaches a different story based on the crowd he talks to.”

During an appearance in Iowa in March 2019 during his bid for the presidential nomination, O’Rourke praised the Green New Deal.

“Some will criticize the Green New Deal for being too bold or unmanageable,” O’Rourke said at a rally that was widely covered by several national media outlets at the time. I have seen nothing better to solve this singular crisis we face, a crisis that could, at worst, lead to extinction.

On his 2022 campaign website, O’Rourke continues to emphasize renewable energy sources, but he also promises to expand job opportunities in oil and gas if elected.

“I will add to our hundreds of thousands of jobs in the oil and gas sector by continuing the Texas Labor Movement’s aggressive clean energy jobs plan, which aims to create 1.1 million well-paying jobs. over the next 25 years by investing in geothermal power generation, hydrogen powered power, offshore wind, solar generation, energy efficiency, and more,” O’Rourke says on the “Energy and Environment” issues page of its website.

Abbott’s somewhat low-key campaign appearances with police officials and local elected officials seated at a table contrasted with O’Rourke’s freewheeling rallies with large audiences and robust question-and-answer sessions that involve sometimes people who show up with no intention of voting for a Democrat.

Holder’s events this week also included mentions of his efforts to bolster law enforcement on the state’s border with Mexico and his clashes with the Democratic Biden administration over immigration policy. And the appearances came as another poll shows O’Rourke within one digit of Abbott in a state that hasn’t elected a Democratic governor since 1990 and where no Democrat has won a seat across the board. state since 1994.

Asked about the poll, released Wednesday by the University of Texas’ Texas Politics Project, which shows Abbott only 5 points ahead, the governor showed little to no concern.

“You’re a little premature on this,” Abbott told the reporter. “The game is not over yet. And we will see how close it is when all is said and done.”

John C. Moritz covers Texas government and politics for the USA TODAY Network in Austin. Contact him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JohnnieMo.

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