On Independence Day, the Ector County Republican Party Executive Committee voted in approval of a resolution censuring Governor Greg Abbott.
The Odessa-area Republican committee confirmed the resolution in a 10-1 vote, with four other members who abstained or were unavailable.
The resolution condemns Abbott for violating several of the core principles outlined in the state party’s platform, including “strict adherence to the original language and intent of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitutions of the United States and of Texas.”
An earlier version of the resolution had been presented a few weeks ago but the group held off on considering it.
“It wasn’t quite the time,” Tisha Crow, the Ector County GOP chair, told The Texan. “We hadn’t gotten to this point where people were so angry about the overreach.”
But Abbott’s latest executive order issued on Thursday mandating face masks for Texans under the threat of a $250 fine was the “straw that broke the camel’s back,” according to Crow.
“And it’s not about masks at all. You can substitute many things for that term,” said Crow. “It’s not about the mask. It’s about liberties and it’s about someone infringing upon those illegally. [Abbott] is pushing through mandates he does not have the legal authority to do.”
Crow said Abbott’s actions set a precedent for future governors to abuse authority under similar times of disaster. As an example, Crow said that in the wake of another hurricane, a governor might prohibit residents from carrying weapons simply “so that no one feels fearful.”
“On this day 244 years ago, our founding fathers fought for their independence, from a foe that issued mandates and collected excessive taxes,” said the Ector County GOP in a July 4 Facebook post.
They said that Independence Day was “a fitting day for us to send a clear message to Governor Abbott. A message that we will no longer sit quietly while he over reaches his authority again, again, and again.”
The resolution criticizes Abbott’s numerous executive orders throughout the past four months, arguing that he violated the Texas Constitution by “suspending statutes enacted by the legislature” and “creating law via executive order in violation of the separation of the powers of government.”
It also contends that Abbott failed to “preserve the freedoms of Texans” and his executive orders “resulted in the denial of due process to millions of Texans, constituted takings without just compensation by closing businesses without just cause, denied the people the right to freedom of assembly, and imposed onerous mandates, fines, and imprisonment upon the people.”
Crow said that the intention behind the resolution was to motivate Abbott to call an emergency session so that state legislators can address the problems surrounding the pandemic.
If the resolution is left in its current state, simply approved by one county party, the governor will likely shrug it off without much consequence.
But Rule 44 of the Republican Party of Texas — which gives the authority for the county censure — also allows a county or district executive committee to request the GOP state convention to consider agreeing with the resolution and imposing penalties on the officeholder.
The Ector County GOP did just that and is hopeful that other counties will follow suit.
“It’s a lot harder for the state convention to ignore multiple counties,” said Crow. “That’s a much louder voice [and] a much harder thing to ignore.”
She noted that three or four other counties had already asked for the language the Ector County GOP used in their resolution, and that there were some others drafting their own variations.
If a resolution censuring Abbott is agreed upon by the state convention with a majority vote, the consequences would be much more noticeable.
Namely, rules requiring neutrality by the party in primary or runoff elections would not apply to Abbott and the Republican Party of Texas would be prohibited from providing “financial or other support” to Abbott’s campaign.
The State Republican Executive Committee (SREC) also has the authority to censure Abbott with the same penalties, but that action would require a two-thirds, not majority, vote.
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Daniel Friend is a reporter for The Texan. He participated in a Great Books program at Azusa Pacific University and graduated in 2019 with a degree in Political Science. He has studied C.S. Lewis’s science fiction trilogy and in his spare time you might find him writing his own novel partly inspired by the series.