The Back MicThe Back Mic: Cecile Richards Joins O’Rourke Campaign, Musk Twitter Buyout Draws Texas Reactions, Third GOP Lawmaker Endorses Against Incumbent

This week — former Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards joins Beto O’Rourke’s campaign, Texas officials react to Elon Musk buying Twitter, and GOP legislators endorse against their colleague.
April 29, 2022

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Cecile Richards Joins O’Rourke Campaign as National Finance Chair

The former Planned Parenthood president and daughter of Texas’ last Democratic governor, Cecile Richards, has been appointed the Beto O’Rourke campaign’s national finance chair.

“I’ll always be a Texan, and I’m proud to be part of the team that’s going to make sure this campaign has the resources, support, and backing necessary to turn a corner in Texas,” said Richards in a campaign release. 

“When Mom ran for governor, she won by building a coalition of people who had been left behind by state government for far too long. Beto is doing the exact same thing as he travels to every part of the state with a focus on improving public education, creating good-paying jobs, and expanding access to affordable health care.”

O’Rourke added, “Cecile has always been a strong champion for labor rights, reproductive rights, civil rights, and voting rights.”

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As of the latest fundraising period, O’Rourke’s campaign announced it had $6.7 million cash-on-hand — dwarfed by Governor Greg Abbott’s $65 million war chest.

Texas Officials React to Elon Musk’s Purchase of Twitter

This week, the app dubbed the “new town square” changed hands from public ownership to private. That new owner is Tesla’s, and newly-minted Texan, Elon Musk. The acquisition caused various reactions from state officials, some applauding the move and others decrying it.

Governor Greg Abbott was among the applause, and said, “Bring Twitter to Texas to join Tesla, SpaceX & the Boring company.”

“Elon Musk’s buying of Twitter is the most important development for free speech in decades,” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) called it.

State Sen. Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola) took a different tact, saying, “Last year we passed HB20 to protect #FreeSpeech online. Now, fellow Texan [Elon Musk] has struck a huge blow for free speech. Texas will continue to lead the nation in protecting this most fundamental American right.”

In his post-purchase statement, Musk mirrored Hughes’ and Abbott’s line of argument in pushing House Bill 20, the social media censorship bill. He called Twitter the “digital town square,” which the bill’s supporters cited to justify the government ensuring value neutral speech policies on social media apps. Twitter’s lobbyist at the time, Steve DelBianco of NetChoice, opposed this assertion.

Now Twitter’s owner’s position is in line with Texas law.

Two Democrats chided their Republican counterparts after the news broke, criticizing efforts to remove sexually explicit and Critical Race Theory-imbued materials from school libraries.

State Rep. Gene Wu (D-Houston) said, “Republicans: Hooray, no more censorship on Twitter! Also Republicans: Public libraries should only carry books that don’t make us uncomfortable.”

Wu’s colleague, Rep. Diego Bernal (D-San Antonio), added a tweet directed at Musk, “Since you’re in Texas now, take a look at what the Governor and Legislature are doing with the public schools.”

Kacal’s Texas House Colleagues Endorse Against Him

Usually, Texas House members will stay out of their colleague’s primary fights, especially if they’re of the same party. But that is not the case in the House District 12 GOP runoff in which Rep. Kyle Kacal (R-College Station) faces challenger Ben Bius.

This week, a third House Republican endorsed Bius over Kacal. 

Rep. Mayes Middleton (R-Wallisville) — who in all likelihood will be a member of the Texas Senate when the legislature reconvenes in 2023 — said of Bius in his endorsement, “Ben is a principled conservative who will fight to finish Trump’s wall and secure the border, ban critical race theory from being taught in our classrooms, and ban taxpayer-funded lobbying.”

Middleton joins Reps. Ben Leman (R-Anderson) and Steve Toth (R-The Woodlands) in endorsing against their colleague.

In his endorsement, Leman shared the same sentiment as Middleton, stating, “Ben Bius will stand up and fight for the conservative values of our district.”

Bius has hammered Kacal frequently for his voting record, consistently among the most liberal within the GOP caucus. During the 2021 session, Kacal was rated the fifth-most liberal Republican in the Texas House.

The race also pits two of Texas’ top Republican officials against one another, with Abbott endorsing Kacal and Cruz endorsing Bius.

The May 24 election will decide who wins the HD 12 GOP nomination and an all-but-assured path through the November general.


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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.