Texas Dems call border visit a 'publicity stunt' amid 'real issues'

As Gov. Greg Abbott met with former President Donald Trump at the southern border, Texas Democrats gathered at the steps of the Texas State Capitol to draw attention to ‘real issues’ in the state.

"I have a message for Governor Abbott and Lieutenant Governor Patrick and the rest - they need to fix this damn grid," said Mike Collier, candidate for lieutenant governor. "Don’t go to the border with a publicity stunt to distract from this issue."

Jamarr Brown, incoming co-executive director of the Texas Democratic Party, called it "political posturing and grandstanding."

The group called on the governor to focus on state issues and leave the border in the hands of the federal government. "We continue to spend our state resources on a make-believe crisis while there are so many other crises that we need to address," said state Rep. Celia Israel (D-Austin).

They voiced concern about issues beyond just the power grid, including expanding voter access and healthcare.

"While our Governor is at the border placating to the extreme far edges of his party with a defunct president focusing on issues that are not state issues, the Texas Democrats are here putting forth an agenda that will help the people of Texas," said state Rep. John Bucy (D-Austin).

During the 2021 legislative session, Abbott signed a bill to reform ERCOT and winterize power plants.

"I can tell you for the fact that as we’re sitting here today the electric grid in Texas is better today than it’s ever been," said Gov. Abbott at a June 16 press conference. "They got the repairs done now before the real heat of summer hits, and they should be prepared to go into the summer fully capable of meeting demands."

However, Democrats at Wednesday’s event said it’s not enough to ensure what happened in February doesn’t happen again. "That bill is window-dressing," said Collier. "It will not produce what we need in terms of capacity, maintenance and the rest."

Democrats on Wednesday said Texas leaders should focus on expanding power capacity and coming up with a better emergency plan in the meantime. They also suggested offering incentives for residents to upgrade their homes.

"Texas put a man on the moon," said Collier. "Now we can’t even keep our lights on."

Collier also brought up the issue of companies considering a move to Texas. Just last week, electric vehicle company Canoo announced it would build its mega factory in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The company was reportedly considering Texas but decided against it in part because of Texas’ infrastructure issues.

"I know for a fact that people that are considering bringing jobs and building companies in this state are watching very carefully to see what our grid is going to look like next year, the following year and the following year," said Collier.

Democrats hope to address the power grid and other issues at a special session that starts July 8.

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