The Texas Outlaw Writers got a chance to chat up Harvey Kronberg, the famed publisher of the Texas Quorum Report. The QR has long been the 'go-to' insider publication on Texas politics, and Harvey is the insider's insider. "We can only write 10% of what we know. If we wrote 20%, nobody would ever talk to us again, and 30%? There'd be contracts out on us."
Harvey gives us the latest on midterm poll trends, as well as his outlook on how the Texas political landscape is shifting... or not. He worries that "politics is breaking out everywhere... most of it, bad." Remember Apocalypse Now? "The horror... the horror..." Yeah, it's like that.
He and the Outlaws fret over Beto, Dan Patrick, and Ken "ha-ha! I'm still not in jail" Paxton. What's working in various campaigns? Who's breaking through? Which advertisements are scoring with the voters? And importantly, are the Dems any closer to having a real political organization in this state?
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PLEASE NOTE: This is a VERY rough (AI-generated) transcript of the show. If something is misspelled or a name is garbled... give the show a listen just to verify.
Season 1, Ep. 7 Transcript
Chris: Welcome to the Texas Outlaw Writers Podcast. Today we have, it looks like everybody is here with us, Deece Eckstein, Roger Gray, Myra Jolivet, Jim Moore. And I'm Chris Newlin. It's been a nutso week in National Politics. But we are here to talk about Nutso Texas politics. And with that in mind, we have a legend in Texas political coverage this week.
Several of the outlaws have worked alongside him, and I believe Roger has probably interviewed him more than anyone else and probably used him as a source for more than a, just a handful of stories. So, Roger, why don't you tell us who are picking on.
Roger Gray: buddy Harvey Kronberg is with us. He's the owner editor. Uh, what, what are you now? Harvey, Editor Emeritus?
Harvey Kronberg: Well, I'm publisher, uh, publisher, and I'm little weekly contributor,
Roger Gray: I indeed, uh, to the Quorum Report, which is the newsletter of Political Texas. Um, it, it was in existence. I know Harv, when you joined, but I I know when you took it over. It, it, I was telling all of them.
You stepped it up several notches. it is, Harvey knows everybody there is to know. Uh, he knows where the bodies are buried. He can make a damn good living, uh, in blackmail if he chose to But he has it. And the frustrating thing for me interviewing Harvey all these years is he has a better broadcast voice than all of us That, that's my most frustrating
Harvey Kronberg: just to follow that up briefly. Uh, we can only write 10% of what we know. If we've wrote 20%, nobody had ever talked to us again, and 30% there'd be contracts out on us. So
Roger Gray: Pretty much. Pretty much. So
Deece Eckstein: And 40% no one would believe
Roger Gray: yeah,
Harvey Kronberg: It's pretty unbelievable to start with these.
Deece Eckstein: Yes, sir.
Roger Gray: but if it's politics in Texas, Harvey Harvey probably knows the players.
Chris: What about, let's just, let's just start at the top with Beto real quick, but I know Roger and these were talking about, uh, a lieutenant government governor's race.
Roger Gray: Our mutual, our mutual friend Dan Patrick. Yeah.
Myra Jolivet: Yes. Whom we all worked with.
Chris: What are you seeing for Beto there, Harvey?
Harvey Kronberg: there's a narrow path. it's hard to deter, to distinguish motion from momentum. When it comes to Beto, he's, uh, uh, a constant activity. There's some benchmarks that, um, that fall outside of normal polling. If you look at normal polling, it doesn't look like he's ever broken above 42%. Uh, the motion in polling has been Greg Abbott falling, and, uh, the, but the battleground was always 12%.
Um, independent voters who typically lean Republican, beta's, um, disapproval numbers, are substantially higher among the independent voters than, uh, Abbots. So the flip side of that, How do you pull angry women Post dos that, uh, over and over, at least anecdotally tell me they're gonna skip that, that race on the ballot.
they may not be able to vote for Be though, but they, uh, sure as hell can't vote for Abbot.
Jim Moore: So Harvey Scotty's been, uh, he's been alluding to, uh, some issues in the suburbs saying that, uh, uh, Abbott's internal polls, uh, show. Uh, tanking in the suburbs. Is, is, is that anything that offers Beto any promise?
Harvey Kronberg: There's, Yes. Uh, that's, that's why the, the polling narrative is so bizarre when you're doing statewide polling. he doesn't seem to break above 42%, but, uh, particularly in Tarrant County, which is rock rib Republican country, Tarrant County, Abbott is down by 4%, uh, based on Abbott internal polling, which we're not supposed to know, but of course we do.
And, um, in, uh, Fort Bend County, the home of the illustrious Tom Delay, uh, , they were doing polling for a county, county judge's race, and they just asked a, an approval disapproval question. abbot's negatives were 14 points higher. Than, um, than Betos uh, negatives, uh, which is, was essentially a 17 point spread.
for us, the most interesting thing is, as you may know, the legislature has gone to war with cities and counties, uh, because they're largely democratic and, um, and that obviously must be malignant and evil. But, when asked about in Fort Bend County, once again, formerly all rock rib Republican, uh, they say, Is the state going in the right direction or wrong direction?
a solid majority, almost 60% say the state is going in the wrong direction. when asked about their county government, uh, uh, almost 60% say the state, their county is going in the right direction. So it's a, uh, I don't know
Jim Moore: Oh, that's interesting.
Myra Jolivet: That's a weird mixed bag.
Harvey Kronberg: Yep.
Myra Jolivet: Well, I, I've been hearing that nationally the extreme Republicans are underrepresented because A, they don't like to answer polls or don't wanna be affiliated with the candidates that are in alignment with Trump. Is that happening in Texas?
Harvey Kronberg: Trump is not really an issue per se, but, uh, for instance, in Fort Bend County, I'm sorry, in Tarran County, Fort Worth, um, the, uh, candidates, uh, for county offices are all MAGA, uh, make America great, not mothers against Greg Abbott. Um, and they have not toned the rhetoric down at all since the primary.
And of course, the, you know, classic rule of thumb is you go extreme in your primary and then you crawl back to the center as fast as you can for the general, and they haven't. Uh, so interestingly, uh, down ballot rhetoric in places, uh, in Tarran like Tarn County, um, anyway, that, uh, uh, The, the extreme rhetoric is, um, is undermining, uh, Governor Abbott.
Uh, and I should also add that we've had, uh, I've personally had three occasions to be involved in q and a with him, where he was specifically asked about exemptions in the case of, um, uh, rape and incest. And he's declined to answer all three times, which I think tells you, oh, you know, need to know about whether he would sign that bill or not if it came to him.
Roger Gray: I know that from what you wrote, Harvey, you were as disappointed with not just the content of their only debate, but the uh, Uh, that apparently cave to Abbott's crew on, on the rules for the debate. It, it allowed almost no interaction at all.
Harvey Kronberg: this is a, uh, long time. Um, this all actually began, believe it or not, with Kinky Friedman.
Myra Jolivet: Remember that name,
Harvey Kronberg: Uh, back in, uh, it was 2006, uh, Governor Perry was running against, um, four candidates. Uh, Carol Relander, the Democrat, who nobody remembers, uh, Chris Bell, and, uh, the one and only Kinky Friedman.
Perry won that race by 39%. Ironically, the same percentage that Wendy Davis had when she lost. Uh, but he won that. The, um, uh, they were terrified of the debate because, kink, he's one liners, although we were all over exposed to 'em, were, uh, were zingers. And they would, the audience would laugh and he would end up controlling the narrative in the headlines coming out of the debate.
So that's when Dave Carney, uh, Governor Abbots and then go, At that time, Governor Perry's consultant said, uh, no audience, nobody in the room, but the questioners and the technicians. And you could watch, if, if a comedian. Pops a a joke and nobody laughs. they suddenly get lost and, uh, uh, you could watch Kinky Friedman just kind of wither up and, and be a non-factor in that debate.
Well, ever since then, Carney has, essentially either, uh, prevented debates. He may recall that that Governor Perry refused to, uh, uh, debate know white Democrat, Bill White, unless he turned over tax records, uh, for five years. White turned over five years of tax records, and so they raised the anti to 10 years.
Jim Moore: it's, it's worth noting Harvey that that Kinky was possibly the worst candidate in the history of Texas politics. He knew nothing about any issues and he was trying to run on Willie Nelson's biodiesel platform.
Harvey Kronberg: mention pro cannabis, but, uh,
which about 15 years too soon,
Jim Moore: He was. He was terrible. he was
Myra Jolivet: Yeah,
Roger Gray: a but a great, a great interview
Myra Jolivet: great bi great soundbites
Harvey Kronberg: the rule of thumb is to do it on a Friday night when there's, when there's a high school football, um, do it on a Nexstar in Texas. They'll hate me for saying this, but has the weakest distribution outside of a couple of metropolitan areas of all the broadcast networks prior to the, uh, Kinky Fridman debate.
Uh, every network carried it, including PBS. And I will, they have so isolated this debate. It's not being rebroadcast and it may be the only gubernatorial debate in the country that is not being played on. C uh, c CSpan
Roger Gray: Was that part of Carney's deal that this, you know, one and only this, is it one shot? Nobody ever has to see it.
Harvey Kronberg: Yes. And um, and frankly the questioners, the interviewers, the press folks that were doing the interviews did not know till they got there that there was not gonna be an audience, uh, in, nor did they fully understand the ground rules. And of course, um, the quest, uh, I hate to make accusations cuz NexStar does have some, uh, absolutely excellent journalists.
But, uh, the way it was structured was one minute questions, 32nd responses, and no follow up. it, turned it into a non-event.
Roger Gray: And no, cross examination of each other. no No interaction
Harvey Kronberg: the two. And we're the 10th largest economy and Texas, were a state where the 10th largest economy in the world. And we can't have a conversation between the two folks that wanna run
Myra Jolivet: That's just little speeches. I mean, that's all that is. That's, that's nothing. I mean, that does, Yeah. Little, little bites.
Harvey Kronberg: The interesting thing to me was that at least, um, um, O'Rourke was, uh, prepared for this debate. he was so unprepared for his debate with Ted Cruz that he really embarrassed himself this time. He was ready. He had the ammunition, he had the sound bites. They'd obviously, uh, prepped him.
Uh, but, uh, uh, uh, the, uh, the, uh, lady that was running the interviews, uh, kept cutting him off. When he tried to, uh, respond, the governor could go over, over time by 20 or 30 seconds. Uh, Beto would, was interrupted precisely at that 62nd or 32nd mark.
Jim Moore: It's a horrible format. Very annoying. Didn't, didn't really allow for an engaging debate. There was no back and forth to speak of. I mean, it's, it, it's very, it is very much in keeping with the, the limited attention span the audience has these days. Bang, bang, bang, the annoying bell, bang, bang, bang, the annoying bell, and let's move on.
I just, uh, I hated
Chris: My, wife, noted the little, bell, um, was, uh, very, uh, breaking bad
Myra Jolivet: Well, do you guys remember, do
you guys remember when there were real debate rules? When I worked for Whitmeyer, David Berg, you know, the attorney was her debate coach and we spent hours, you know, with each of us. We had a role, you know, I was, whoever I was then Hoff Fines or somebody, you know, we were doing all these different things because, and Berg was there and we had real debate rules cuz there were at least a dozen of them during the campaign, if not more.
Um, and they started fizzling. No, I don't, I don't see any debate, real debates going on. Am I just not seeing it?
Harvey Kronberg: well, there are debates
actually. I do, I have no life. So I watch political debates on cspan, Uh,
Jim Moore: You gotta get out Harvey
Harvey Kronberg: I used to come back for two o'clock in the morning from the legislative session, watch, uh, c flip on cspan. My wife would wake up, walk into the room and say, Look at me, Shake her head and say, Can't you watch porn like a normal
Myra Jolivet: Right. I'm with her two. Come on.
Jim Moore: You just seek professional help, dude.
Harvey Kronberg: I think we've gone past that. Roger.
Roger Gray: this, this was so restrictive that it was, it was just basically trading bumper stickers is what
Myra Jolivet: Oh, good.
Roger Gray: and I doubt that anybody, anybody learned anything
Harvey Kronberg: Uh, well, and the audience was intentionally small and, um, and, uh, without rebroadcast, pretty much tells you everything you need to know about Carney's strategy.
Roger Gray: I had to watch it on computer because, uh, there's no, there's no no next Star Station nearby.
Jim Moore: I have to, I do have to say though, uh, Myra, I, that, that when it came to high stakes debates, they were all very tightly formatted. And I mean, the last one I was in was the, the Bush and W one in, in Dallas. And there was, there was no back and forth to that. We had, I think we had four panelists there, and we could ask a question and, and they would get 60 to 90 to answer, and then the opponent would get 30 for a follow up.
And then the reporter could, Yeah. And then a porter reporter could ask a follow up. But, uh, I mean, there was never, I mean, And Anne and W never turned and faced each other that I can recall and went, went at it toe to toe. You were there, weren't you, Harvey?
Harvey Kronberg: I wasn't in, uh, I was watching, I wasn't present in the, in studio, but audience reaction, um, shapes a debate. Frankly, whatever the rules are without an audience,
it, it, um, it, um, is totally under the control of the technicians.
Chris: Let's move on to. Dan,
Harvey Kronberg: Everybody's favorite character,
Deece Eckstein: Lieutenant Dan.
Chris: is that looking like?
Harvey Kronberg: I can tell you, uh, three months ago, Patrick was most worried about Abbott on top of the ticket because Abbott's disapproval, his negatives were so high. Patrick probably has the highest name id of any lieutenant governor. It's certainly in my reporting career. and, but most of that name ID is negative.
remember that Collier got within six points with less than a million dollars, four years ago. Of course, that was partially a, a referendum on cruise and partially a referendum on, uh, former President Trump. But, They are anxious over there. And frankly, the, it, it's a little easy to say that, uh, if he's running a negative ad against Collier, they must be worried.
But it's even more than that. Ted Cruz was able to beat Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst for the Senate because he attacked Dewhurst, attacked him by name so much. Nobody really knew who Ted Cruz was until, uh, David Dert started attacking him. And do Dewhurst in many ways was more responsible for raising name ID for, for Cruz than anything Cruz did.
Deece Eckstein: He was the author of his own demise.
Harvey Kronberg: the
Cardinal sin has never mentioned your opponent's name if you don't have to, and he barely has to
Jim Moore: I think that a big part of the Dehus cruise thing had to do with the fact that it was a runoff, and that's when activists vote and it was in the dead of July. I, I, I don't, I don't think Ted would've won in a regular fall election or, or spring primary against him, frankly.
But I could be wrong. I frequently am.
Harvey Kronberg: intuitively, I, I agree with you except, uh, Democrats don't, There might have been national democratic money here, but Democrats as bizarre as Republicans may be, Democrats are even more dysfunctional. they've been snapping a defeat from the jaws of victory for a long time. Most recent example being, uh, the 2020 election where we thought that there might be 10 or 12 games in the Texas house, the funding police came along, they never could come up, come up with a bumper sticker response, and uh, uh, you just watched the air go out of the Democratic
Jim Moore: Yeah.
Harvey Kronberg: point.
Chris: that was a question I wanted to bring up today was, you've got Beto that, that has made a mark and for Democrats here, is there any kind of democratic infrastructure being built or is it just like every other race, boom. Gone, boom, gone,
Harvey Kronberg: been pretty critical of, of a lot of things about the Beto campaign, but the smartest thing he did was divorce himself from the Democratic infrastructure. well, let me just tell you, the Republicans 25 years ago, as they started to take over the model, Was they started, uh, a group called Associated Republicans of Texas.
It was a parallel operation to the Republican party, but they went out and they recruited Chamber of Commerce style, uh, uh, uh, candidates as opposed to, uh, over the top, um, uh, rhetorical. Uh, whack jobs. so they legitimized their candidates and business money went to associated Republicans of Texas because they were responsible, stewards of, of, they didn't micromanage elections, but, um, they, they contributed and they organized him.
And so they were kind of a off camera Republican party. Uh, Democrats have no parallel, organizational structure. The other thing is that, conservative position named Dr. Jim Leiger founded, uh, Texas Public Policy Foundation, which once upon a time was a legitimate think tank. It is, uh, um, conservative but legitimate think tank.
Uh, they didn't know the answer before they, uh, before. Unlike today, they know the answer. And, uh, it's just a question of how you tortured the logic to get there. the one thing that TPP F is really good at is candidate training schools and coming up with bumper sticker, um, uh, issues. And there's no independent kind of rhetorical organization on the demo, certainly on the state democratic side, uh, that fills that void.
So there's two things the Republicans were, were truly smart about a couple of decades ago, and it's paid dividends for a long time.
Myra Jolivet: So tell me this, what did I just believe? A myth. But when I moved to Texas in the eighties, eighties and nineties, the Democratic Party seemed to really have a structure. It seemed to have a plan and a strategy. And what's her name? Billy B. Was it Billy Carr? You know, there, there were these different people that I was introduced to by Kathy Whitmire, who really were strategic.
Was that just a myth? Did I just buy the smoke or was it I, it seemed like it was working.
Harvey Kronberg: it was a one party state back then. Um, actually it was a three party state. It was, uh, liberal Democrats, Conservative Democrats and Republicans. Uh, so the Democrat, the argument was always internal among the Democratic Party. Uh, but they had, they had resources and they had a hierarchy, a hierarchal structure where there were actual decision makers.
Um, uh, the current chairman, um, is a nice guy, is the best I can say, but he carries no authority with him. And in the absence of, of a statewide office holder, uh, there's no anchor to build an organization. the possibility of a single victory somewhere on the ballot this time statewide for Democrats would legitimize them.
the flip side of that is that, um, or as a result of that, we're watching very closely to see if South Texas transitions, as red as it looks like it might transition, just as the suburbs are transitioning, Democratic. but I guess the, the real takeaway on answering your question is, once the party became labeled as the trial lawyer party, all the business money evaporated.
and, uh, there's not enough na without a, a structure to through which channel money in Texas, there's no reason for national Democrats to invest.
Myra Jolivet: that's true. I mean, remember, I think the first time Obama ran, he didn't even bother to have an office. It was like a wa you know, it would've been a waste of their money, their, their, uh, campaign money. But, you know, the last place I want a nice guy is in politics or as a lawyer.
Harvey Kronberg: Mm-hmm.
Myra Jolivet: don't know. Maybe I'm twisted, but
Harvey Kronberg: my
attorney's nickname is Crash
Roger Gray: I, I'm understanding, I'm hearing that the National Party is basically abandoning South Texas.
Harvey Kronberg: well, by default, yeah, the, the, I think the energy for them, they, the odds of the Democrats being able to hold a house are really low, Even Postops. So all of the national energy on the Democratic side is going to the Senate races. Uh, meanwhile, the Republicans as of last week had. I was, uh, at that great, uh, political event, the Texas OU Game, which is an extraordinary, um, uh, political network.
I, I didn't go to the game, I just went there to network with political folks. And I had, I was told that there's three quarters of a million dollars in national money, late money waiting to be Republican money to be invested in South Texas if they see the op, the proper opportunities. And now the flip side, Oh, I keep saying the flip side.
There's all i, it's very tomo on the other hand. Um, but, um, two years ago, Republicans just came up with a strategy for block walking during covid. And that was also part of what, under what undercut, um, uh, Democrats, the door hangers and phone banking, they didn't go knock on doors. The Republicans would knock on doors, take 10 steps back, and if people wanted to talk to 'em, they talked, they engaged.
And that was credited with, um, some surprise, uh, victories for Republicans. Uh, they're doing the same strategy in South Texas. But, uh, I am told by folks on the ground down there that, um, these are mostly hired block walkers and they are mostly Anglo. And when an Anglo comes, an unknown Anglo comes to knock on your door in South Texas, uh, it is not necessarily the most persuasive thing.
They're investing all this money, , in block walking, but they may have the wrong block walkers for that event.
Jim Moore: You think Flores is gonna win
Harvey Kronberg: no, I don't think so this time. But,
Deece Eckstein: Who are we talking about? Tim?
Jim Moore: Yeah. Oh, that's that's true.
that's true. Sorry, Myra. Of course, she's the one.
Harvey Kronberg: at the moment, I don't think so. But, uh, she's, uh, she's a workhorse and she's got more earned media than anybody, uh, in South Texas. Uh, earned media being free media, you know, generated by news coverage. and she, a rising star.
Myra Jolivet: before you guys get too deep, give me South Texas. What? What? Give me a city we're talking about. I need to catch up.
Harvey Kronberg: Laredo right now. Um, uh, they are, you should, you, you'd be astonished to see the ads. I can't find 'em on YouTube. Uh, I've had a couple shown to me, Uh, the ads against Henry Cuerar, uh, are just, brutal. there's the, uh, Eddie Lucio, the third, Reading Lu Jr. The Pop Senator Lucio, is, um, retiring and, uh, we have, uh, Morgan Laia.
Versus, Oh, I'm having a senior moment. that district was drawn to be a transitional Republican district. It reaches up into cor corpus from South Texas, from Cameron County, all the way up into Corpus Christi and very Republicans, San Patricia County. It's widely believed, uh, by Republicans anyway, that Laia will win this race to the Democrat.
very wealthy fit South Texas family, obviously. but in two years, in a presidential year, uh, if the Republicans have a good candidate, they can, and she draws, as you know, the Senate, uh, draws, draws lots to see who's gonna have a two year term and a four year term. And then Dan Patrick sent it.
I would almost guarantee she's gonna have a two year term. Funny how that'll work. Um, and in a presidential year?
Deece Eckstein: gonna be by lots of course.
Harvey Kronberg: Yes. Yes. It'll be the
Deece Eckstein: Yeah, random thing, but.
Harvey Kronberg: I'm gonna be, I'm gonna be snarky here for just a moment. At the State Republican Convention, which was one of the most bizarre conventions I've ever been to, and I've been to 12,
Roger Gray: it was right after Uvalde
Harvey Kronberg: yes. and you would think they were the party out of power, but, uh, cause they were just so angry.
Everybody was angry. And, you know, as you may remember, John Cornyn and got booed for, for, uh, 30 minutes. Essentially, they stopped when he talked about judicial appointees.
the standard refrain that I heard there from longtime Republicans was, Damn, I'm a conservative. I'm just not sure I'm a Republican anymore.
Deece Eckstein: You're not conservative enough. Uh, Harvey, can I, can I come back to the, uh, statewide race? obviously a very clear part of Beto strategy has been to go out into West Texas, or go out into rural Texas, I guess is what I, the way I wanna say it. and see if he can campaign, get some enthusiasm, that sort of thing.
And there seems to be some, at least anecdotal evidence that that's working. I assume he is not gonna carry a lot of those rural Texas counties, but if he loses them by 60% instead of by 80%, uh, and there's a, you know, good turnout in the, in the, um, big urban counties and in some of the suburban counties, there's a, there's a path there, isn't there?
Harvey Kronberg: That's a, that's a, a good point. Well, it's about voter suppression, frankly. On the, on the flip side, you know, voter suppression we typically think of as Republicans trying to keep Democrats from voting. but, uh, what he, what he's doing, frankly, Governor ab, uh, has, um, has not been a friend to, uh, rural Texas.
Uh, he's promoting vouchers, which as you know, uh, he's gone dark on that during the campaign. But it was a big deal in the primary that they were gonna put, he might even make vouchers an emergency item on the, uh, next legislative session. Vouchers essentially steal money for rural schools for all practical purposes, and they're the center of the, uh, uh, of most rural communities.
And they have an epidemic of hospital closures, uh, in, in rural Texas, Uh, largely, well, not just
exclusively, but Exactly. And we just left 17 billion of our own dollars on the table. and so Beto had. He didn't have to spend any money in order to be the center of attention, the center of conversation out in West Texas.
And he, uh, incorporated something, uh, which was truly unique I thought, which was he'd have paid Abbott protestors outside, with signs saying Abbott, he'd invite them in and make them the first questions. very disarming. I think, uh, these, you, you nailed it. The, uh, the, the strategy is to reduce the, the re presumptive Republican majority.
we've got a million new voters registered this time, uh, with unclear voting histories. with that kind of growth, that growth has mostly been in 12 counties and, uh, those 12 counties. 53% of the voters are women. So uh, we shall, we shall see how it translates, but, uh, uh, the strategy is definitely to, take advantage of the growing purple of the suburbs, reduce the redness of, uh, rural Texas, and just try and contain whatever may be happening in South.
Myra Jolivet: How are women leaning in Texas? Are they voting against their interests or
Harvey Kronberg: Well, it, it's the, um, I, again, the famous Texas OU weekend. I got to cha, talked to two premier pollsters off the record. Um, but I will tell you that, uh, uh, they both in their polling see, uh, Dobbs and abortion dropping and intensity, uh, overall, uh, they wouldn't identify whether that was women or not. Um, but only 17% and Quinn Pak confirmed it.
So Quinnipiac said 17% of, um, voters consider, uh, abortion the number one issue. I keep hearing. Maybe it's true, maybe it's not. But I keep hearing that Betos got the, an October surprise series of knockout ads and the, he wouldn't throw a punch at Cruz four years ago. Um, and my mantra is incumbents Don't could beat, they get fired and he's, he's making a pretty compelling case out in West Texas and, uh, among women that Abbott needs to be fired.
And, um, so we shall see if it, if, if,
Deece Eckstein: You know, and I don't think, I don't think Dobbs has to be, or abortion has to be the number one issue for people because Abbott has failed at so many other things. I mean, abortion's just, you know, kind of, uh, topping on the cake. This is my, this is me editorializing. It's not really sophisticated political analysis, but I mean, there, I think there's, other than sort of the real.
Crazy right wing mag, part of the Republican party, which is significant. There's not really a big constituency that says, Oh my God, my life is so much better now because of Greg Abbott than it was eight years ago. so I think he's, you know, he's kind of on the nice edge. I, it seems to me, and maybe it, it'll take a little bit of lightning to strike or whatever, but I think Abbott is vulnerable in a way he wasn't
he four years ago and wasn't when he coasted the victory back in the 2014, I guess, was when he was first elected.
Jim Moore: And 17 percent's a pretty big number, isn't it? I mean, you know, I mean, it, it all.
17% won't make the decision based upon that issue, but I mean, hell Rove. Yeah. Rove turned national elections with wedge issues at one and 2%,
Harvey Kronberg: That's That's, exactly right. And, um, this will be the first election in my professional career that there will be single issue pro-choice voters going to the polls in Texas, usually it's single issue, pro-life voters going to the polls. And, um, that's, I think that's an unmeasurable at this stage. they need the youth vote and, uh, the question is how they're going to engage them in the, in the next week or two before early voting.
That's also a critical feature that, uh, uh, younger voter intensity really spiked right after dos seems to have drifted back down. It has to be be reignited.
Myra Jolivet: What about the threat to democracy in Texas? Has that risen as an issue? It's my understanding it has nationally. So, you know, this whole anti-democracy movement, undermining voter confidence, undermining every tenant of democracy, uh, how's that playing? Has that become an issue?
Harvey Kronberg: I don't think
Jim Moore: never really had democracy in Texas that way.
Myra Jolivet: Oh, let me rephrase the
Chris: It's so overrated,
Harvey Kronberg: We're
back to the illusion of
Deece Eckstein: got me That's a chin scratcher. Myra.
Myra Jolivet: Okay. I've been way too long. Forgive me.
Harvey Kronberg: Um,
Roger Gray: Yeah.
Harvey Kronberg: I, I don't see it. the only place I've actually heard it mentioned was at the State Democratic Convention. I, I just have to say the contrast between the two conventions where the Republicans were just angry and, and, and, uh, they were giving guns were having raffles for guns in their vendor hall.
versus, but, and it was a, maybe a third the size of a typical Republican convention in terms of all the, the hangers on the, the vendors, uh, the, the, um, uh, corporate world has essentially divorced itself from political conventions in Texas. so it went from like 20,000 people to about 8,000
Roger Gray: And the demo didn't, didn't half of the Democrats leave early anyway?
I mean, they couldn't, they couldn't, get a
Harvey Kronberg: the
Democrats were in a, in a glorious celebration. I mean, I was at the, the convention hall. Okay, I'll confess Bar . And, uh, there would be, whoops, that would break out periodically. Uh, some, some celebrity, uh, would walk by not just, uh, O'Rourke, but but being the Democrats, the only thing that mattered in that convention was Beta's speech.
And for the statewide candidates, they were all scheduled to speak beforehand, so it would lead up to a crescendo to, uh, to see Beto the, party chair, for whatever reason, packed the entire schedule was people running for county judge, or precinct chair, you know, not non-event offices. And they pushed Beto from the eight o'clock, ideal news period where he's gonna be on TV and he'll be in, in, not that anybody reads papers anymore, but he'll be in the papers the next day.
uh, they pushed him to 10 30 and by then everybody was so ticked off. And they, the, the hall was it, it was a lightly attended convention anyway, but half the people had already left and did not hear Beto and they, all the statewide candidates spoke after him to an empty hall. so just on the level of mechanics, the Democratic Convention was far more enthusiastic and, uh, far less effective.
Roger Gray: what, what, Isn't that what happened to McGovern way back when he, he had to give his accepted speech at like two in the morning or something?
Deece Eckstein: in Miami.
Roger Gray: Was it?
Harvey Kronberg: Clinton a not gave a keynote at the 1980 Democratic on for an hour, 20.
Myra Jolivet: Remember he clapped when he was done. So, you know, you bring up a point about, uh, down ballot. So, you know, there's a strategy going on here with the, I don't know if it's mega maga. I never knew what way to pronounce that and I guess I don't fully care. So of, of looking at school board of races, you know, running for school board, running for some of these down ballot races because we all know local matters.
People don't always get that, but Right.
But local matters, so, So what's going on there in terms of down ballot races?
Harvey Kronberg: Well, uh, um, fortunately for Democrats, uh, the energy is being, has been sucked up to the top of the ticket critical race theory, which is what has, uh, driven, uh, the school board. Uh, the anger towards school boards, um, has
an issue. Pardon me?
Roger Gray: otherwise known as
Myra Jolivet: The
Harvey Kronberg: Yeah, yeah. Unsanitized
Roger Gray: Yeah.
Harvey Kronberg: anyway, the, the, you don't feel a lot of motion, but it's kind of like, I, I, I'm suspicious of the fact that you don't feel anything in that, in that situation because, um, the evangelicals slowly took over the Republican party working.
In down, way down ballot races. They won school boards and they went county commissioner seats and suddenly they, they, they had an infrastructure. And, uh, I would not be surprised that if that did not play out the same way here. Now, having said that, Texas State Teachers Association ran a poll of teachers, um, and okay, it might be, uh, inflated by a few points to, um, to prove their point, but 77% of teachers in Texas are thinking about leaving the profession.
And it's not just money, it's the fact that we've criminalized education, potential, legal liability for being a teacher. And, um, they talking about teachers carrying guns in classrooms and
Chris: Did you say 77%?
Harvey Kronberg: 77% of teachers that they would think, Can you imagine the crisis that would be if. And I know teachers that are, have loved it for all their lives and, and are ready to walk outta the classroom right now just cuz they get to do everything but teach and,
Myra Jolivet: that's the, that was the agenda to undermine public education. Right? That's, And so they're winning that and, it, it, it, that's a, uh, it may not be 77% nationally, but it's a big number nationally. Uh, that teachers are also talking about leaving. So then it forces everyone into either charter schools or private schools.
Cause public education has gone to shit anyway, you know, it's gone down. But, um, it just really ticks me off that, that is allowed to happen and
Harvey Kronberg: Well, you mention, remember I mentioned Jim Leiger, the founder of the Texas Public Policy Foundation. He's been plowing that field of vouchers now for 30 years, and it started with a guy, you know, when, and a, a small little niche audience. And they've been able, rhetorically, they've been able, I think, to dominate the conversation and, uh, and certainly as the complexion of the state has changed, a loaded statement.
But, um, uh, African Americans and, and, uh, Latinos have. Disproportionately low per capita turnout. as public schools have become racially more racially and ethnically diverse, it is, uh, I, I would argue it has, uh, bolstered the voucher argument,
Roger Gray: I don't, I don't know. I don't know why it's so hard to fight vouchers. You're, you're looking for a way for taxpayers to send my kid to private
school, basically, is what it amounts to.
It's, it's a simple message and, you know, and, and I, I, don't know why. Anyway. Can
Harvey Kronberg: I
Roger Gray: Go ahead.
Harvey Kronberg: I, I can't help but chuckle, You know, how angry Republicans were over student loan forgiveness at the same time. They're supporting subsidies
Roger Gray: the hell? Yeah.
Myra Jolivet: I
Deece Eckstein: And, And, the private schools are never gonna be in rural areas, and I think that's why rural legislators have been so, in almost unanimously opposed to it, even Republicans, um, or especially Republicans. But that's gonna be, I think that's getting worn down. Uh, I, voters are not as sophisticated anymore.
They consider an ideological issue rather than a practical issue.
Harvey Kronberg: Well, I can tell you one of the, uh, and I'm gonna give Scott Braddock, my editor, uh, some credit for this. He's routinely on the largest, uh, radio program in, uh, West Texas. Um, uh, Chad Hasty. he explained how there's only this, uh, a pool of money this size for education. You take a chunk of it away and put it into private schools.
Well, then there's less for everybody else. I mean, it is at finite. Um, uh, and, and he converted, as best I can tell. He converted, hasty. Abbott was on shortly afterwards and Hasty pressed him on vouchers he has not been back on the Chad Hasty program since.
Deece Eckstein: Good.
Roger Gray: Well, let's be honest. It's a personal opinion, but, uh, Greg Abbott is not a very Good.
politician to me.
Chris: Other than he wins
Roger Gray: he
Myra Jolivet: him up then? What's,
Roger Gray: bland. Uh, don't, don't as how you I was not gonna go there. Um, But I, he had that charisma bypass sometime in the past. And, he's just bland. Absolutely bland. Is there anything though, Harvey, should I be gleaning anything now that I'm here in East Texas, in a small community, um, when I'm doing the news on the radio, we have Abbott spots literally every break.
He made a huge buy here. Obviously you don't hear any Beto. You might as Well, set fire to stack of hundreds, you know, as by time in East Texas. But I, I don't hear Dan, I don't hear anybody. Abbott is saturating the airwaves here. It, is there concern there or is he just sh he has money to burn showing things up.
Harvey Kronberg: Well, remember, he, uh, he, he had a big celebration over the three millions door that got knocked on by his campaign. What they didn't say when they were all paid block walker. He has, he's gonna spend 50 million and, uh, he may, well, he'll spend more. He's, he's raised another 50 million this year alone. Uh, of course he got, was out, Beto outperformed him on both occasions.
But he's gonna have a hundred hundred million pool. And, um, uh, if you ask the lobby here in, in Austin, they'll say, Greg Abbott's greatest talent is fundraising. Um,
Jim Moore: Can, can I, can I, uh, offer one more quick thing that, that, Um, my venom for him comes from his, his, his hypocrisy and his complicity over what happened to him personally. Uh, how he sued when the tree fell on him and broke his back, and he sued the arborist. He sued the homeowner. He got the 10 million settlement.
He got the monthly stipend, he got the lifelong annuities. He got a. Vehicle every month and unlimited healthcare. And then he went on the state Supreme Court and as you suggested, Harvey under Rove who led that campaign to get guys like him elected the court became very business friendly. And Greg Abbott was instrumental in shutting down the courthouse door to anybody who wanted to take the same course of action that he did.
And now he is, yeah, now he's running around saying, Well, like he has said his whole career, you know, we have to, we, we can't have frivolous lawsuits. His, his lawsuit was okay, but anything comparable these days in somebody in a situation similar to his, and I realize I made a snide, snarky mark, but I cannot stand the guy for that reason alone.
And everything he has done since has been informed by that event. And he doesn't seem to give a damn and have any sympathy or sensitivity for anybody in the same situation
Harvey Kronberg: Completely agree on that. And, uh, I'm gonna quote a, a mentor, former lobbyist, uh, who uh, said deep down their shallow,
Myra Jolivet: That's good.
Jim Moore: I might make that up later.
Chris: Harvey. What, what, You know, we're, we're getting along here in the hour. Um, what are, what are you saying that we're not paying attention to? What has surprised you in a state full of crazy politics? What's out crazy, the crazies, or what trends do you see that we should be aware of?
Harvey Kronberg: despite the efforts, I would argue by the legislature to dismantle whatever your politics may be, the economic miracle, partially created by George Bush and Rick Perry. And, and prior to that, Bill Clemens, and even going back to John Connelly, uh, John Connolly, um, uh, was very much about, uh, a higher education.
You could not be a premier economy without higher education, uh, sporting higher education. It goes back that far. and so we've got this enormous prosperity, yet, almost 60% of the state. Thanks. We're going in the wrong direction. and, uh, that, that surprises me, uh, given the economic. Head, uh, tailwinds that, uh, Abbott has it.
Uh, it surprises me that, that, that, that, that doesn't have more resonance. the other thing I think is that, um, there is virtually, uh, no support for, um, uh, local governments. that's why that poll in Fort Bend County, was, was so telling, , local control has not even issue, uh, entered the, and local control used to be a centerpiece for Republicans. Uh, Democrats haven't really utilized it. And then I guess finally, the O'Rourke campaign, Is a cult, frankly, in many ways. He's like Donald Trump. He lives off the adulation of crowds. He had lives off of small fund, uh, donors. Um, he is better on policy than he was four years ago. But I, I joke, and it's only a joke, so the O'Rourke campaign shouldn't call me, but I'm not sure he knows, for instance, that 4,000, over a course of eight years a governor appoint makes about 4,000 appointee appointments.
and that his first two years are going to be essentially scrubbing out those, those, uh, appointees in order to be able to, to effectively be a, be an effective governor. And so, um, nobody has really raised since it is possible that he could win nobody. It surprises me that nobody has, uh, raised the question about how do you create a government after 20 years of, um, of 25 years of, of Republican rule rules.
Deece Eckstein: Can I just throw in, uh, Harvey, the, the Ken Paxton, Rochelle Garza, uh, is Ro, is Ms. Garza getting any traction on that or is Paxton just gonna kind of sail under? Nobody really kind understanding who he is or what he does.
Harvey Kronberg: she, she's within two points on the last poll I saw, but there's 30% that are undecided. it really depends on television and radio. By the way, the, the, uh, Rogers, thank you for pointing that out about, blasting radio. That's one media that I don't typically track. the radio programming I listen to doesn't usually have advertising.
the intensity of the gun issue is not being played out among pro-gun folks is not being played out on television. But, but they are motivated and, uh, leads me to believe that that is, uh, largely because of radio advertising. Um, uh,
Chris: Pro or anti, What do you talk? What do.
Harvey Kronberg: the, has kept, uh, Betos promised to, I'm coming for your AK 40, I'm coming for your guns.
He's totally kept that alive on radio, not on television. And,
Jim Moore: Yeah, that's interesting here. Harvey. Harvey. I did wanna ask one. Also, do you think that that, uh, it would be wise of Beto to, to pass off some of that money to the, the Collier and Garza campaigns? It could actually make a difference, could it not? And it would give him a legacy even if he loses.
Harvey Kronberg: Oh, I, to finish the, the, the, the gar, the original Garza question, all the media in that race is earned media against Ken Paxton. There's a donor strike against Ken Paxton. He has no money. He can't. At Texas OU Weekend, there was a Democratic State senator having a fundraiser in one room and 30 people waiting in line to give him checks.
Next door were Senator Angela Paxton and Ken Paxton. Then there were six people in there. folks that know him, know him better than I do, um, uh, say that he has that look of dead man walking, a political guy who has seen the, the ground come out from under him and is not seeing any affirmation out there.
The most likely statewide victory I, for Democrats, is that race because, you know, the Attorney General's race with the Democrat because all that, bad press that, uh, that frankly, uh, Ken Paxton's earned
Jim Moore: But Beto, Beto could make a difference if he gave them some money.
Harvey Kronberg: all it, it could make a difference. certainly Callier, um, well actually both of them, but the, you've seen the ad, the TV ads by it could have been worse, llc.
hardcore Republicans think that it's totally tasteless. I think it's the most ingenious thing I've seen co-branding, those three statewide
Harvey Kronberg: but that I would also argue that the more, more effective than anything that the O'Rourke campaign has done, has been mothers against Greg Abbott, which started with seven women around the kitchen table, uh, and was totally ignored by O'Rourke.
could have been worse. Llc. Just a, a quick note about Mothers against Greg Abbott. They get it in the sense that, when they first organized, they invited all the Democratic candidates to come be interviewed. canceled on him three times. Uh, and as of the state Democratic Convention had not met with mothers against Greg Abbott.
Um, and arguably the most effective grassroots organization I've, uh, volunteer organization I've seen in Texas in 20 years. and most people n never noticed that when on their first internet ads and, uh, and their tweets. They never really endorsed O'Rourke. They always made it about Abbott, which again goes back to my concept that Encumbent don't get beat, they get fired.
Well, as they've now, uh, they, they actually are a fundraising machine now. at the state Democratic Convention, they'd raised a hundred thousand. I would be surprised if they haven't, I haven't looked, but if they haven't raised a half a million by now,
Myra Jolivet: still don't get it.
Harvey Kronberg: well, he, they, he has met with them finally, um,
that's why I said it's the cult personality.
It's all be Beto. uh, he does his, he's the mig Jagger of Texas politics. He does his best work on a picnic table dancing. But, well, that was snarky.
Myra Jolivet: We like snarky.
Chris: You'll get invited back.
All right, And, and let's, We gotta go guys. Big thank you to Harvey for joining us today.
You can find him
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Deece Eckstein: Can
Harvey Kronberg: Truly a pleasure,
Myra Jolivet: Thank you,