The Back MicThe Back Mic: 9 Republicans Oppose Mask Ban, Paxton Primary Speculation Continues, State Party ‘Resign-to-Run’ Mandate Passes

This week — a mask mandate prohibition fails on the floor, speculation continues over the attorney general primary, and a “resign-to-run” requirement for party officials passes the House.
May 14, 2021

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Seven House GOP Members Vote Against Mask Mandate Prohibition

During the lengthy debate over the Texas Pandemic Disaster Act, one amendment was, at first, tacked on but ultimately failed. Authored by Rep. Cody Vasut (R-Angleton), it would have prohibited the governor from instituting a mask mandate via executive order.

The amendment initially passed by a record vote, but after a vote verification was requested and conducted, it fell short by one vote. Seven Republicans joined Democrats in voting down Vasut’s amendment.

Those members were:

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  • Steve Allison (R-San Antonio)
  • Travis Clardy (R-Nacogdoches)
  • Drew Darby (R-San Angelo)
  • Charlie Geren (R-Fort Worth)
  • Kyle Kacal (R-College Station)
  • Lyle Larson (R-San Antonio)
  • Jim Murphy (R-Houston)

Last July, Governor Greg Abbott issued a statewide mask mandate after previously saying “no jurisdiction can impose a civil or criminal penalty for failure to wear a face covering.”

In March of this year, Abbott rescinded that mandate and further stated, “Removing statewide mandates does not end personal responsibility or the importance of caring for your family members.”

George P. Bush Hypes Run for Attorney General

Asked by Dallas radio host Mark Davis where his intimated primary run against incumbent Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton stood, Land Commissioner George P. Bush stated, “As it stands right now, I’m still investing my personal time outside of my day job on the issues that Texans care about with the grassroots — whether it’s border security, election integrity, and backing [the police].”

“Texas is a big state and that investment of time is going to take me well into the end of [the] legislative session…but we’ve passed some great conservative measures that will keep free and resilient and prepared for the next decade.”

He added, “So, it’ll take a little bit more time but you’ll be one of the first to know once the announcement is official.”

“It’s about rolling up your sleeves and running an agency,” Bush continued, contrasting himself with Paxton, “Ken is up in Plano and I’m here in Austin and focused on the job of being the land officer.”

“I think the next attorney general needs to be able to run a troop of 4,200 full-time employees and deploy our resources toward issues like ballot integrity,” Bush concluded.

The prospective matchup would be one of the most-watched during Texas’ 2022 primary season, along with the gubernatorial race. Governor Greg Abbott has already drawn two primary challengers — former state Senator Don Huffines and pundit Chad Prather — and may draw another down the road.

‘Resign-to-Run’ Bill for State Party Officials Passes House

Texas law prohibits local party officials from holding that office while running for, or serving as any government elected office, but the same does not hold for state party officials.

A new bill that passed the House would close that loophole.

House Bill (HB) 1987 by Rep. Cody Vasut (R-Angleton) strikes the “county or precinct chair” qualifier of the political party resign-to-run mandate.

In a statement to The Texan, Vasut said, “In my opinion, this is an issue of fundamental fairness. The same eligibility rules should apply to our state party officials that apply to our local precinct and county chairs.”

“I believe a resign-to-run rule helps ensure our political parties are controlled by the grassroots they represent rather than the individuals they help elect,” he further said of the policy’s efficacy.

Had it already been law, it would have required Susan Wright, a sitting State Republican Executive Committee member for Senate District 10, to resign before running for Congress. Wright jumped into Texas’ 6th Congressional District special election after her husband who previously held the seat, Ron Wright, passed away.

Another recent candidate for whom this legislation would’ve applied is Kathaleen Wall during her primary run for Texas’ 22nd Congressional District last year.

If passed and signed into law, any future official with any state political party must resign their post before running for other office.


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Brad Johnson

Brad Johnson is a senior reporter for The Texan and an Ohio native who graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2017. He is an avid sports fan who most enjoys watching his favorite teams continue their title drought throughout his cognizant lifetime. In his free time, you may find Brad quoting Monty Python productions and trying to calculate the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow.