The Back MicThe Back Mic: Governor and Legislature Approval Ratings Dip, Per Diems Unreturned from Quorum-Breakers, Abbott Taps Appointees to Head Texas Civics Project

This week — a look at Texas politics during the last week of the second special session.
September 3, 2021

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Governor Abbott’s Approval Ratings Underwater

A University of Texas-Texas Politics Project (TPP) poll released Thursday shows Governor Greg Abbott’s approval rating among likely voters at 41 percent approve and 50 percent disapprove. The last iteration of the poll had the governor even at 44 percent.

The -11 percent approval rating is the lowest of his career and only the second time in his gubernatorial term that he’s had a net negative rating. The only other time was earlier this year in April that he posted a -2 percent net rating.

Additionally, respondents were asked for their thoughts on the state’s most pressing issues. The top five were:

  • Coronavirus
  • Border security
  • Immigration
  • Political corruption
  • Voting rights

For the first time since the TPP began asking the question, over half of respondents believe Texas is on the wrong track.

The Texan Tumbler

In an interesting dichotomy, Texas voters’ assessment on the accuracy of the nation’s elections differed greatly from that of the state’s elections. Just 55 percent of the respondents believe the national election results are accurate while 39 percent do not. But at the state level, nearly three out of four respondents believe the elections are accurate.

When it comes to political parties, both the Democratic and Republican parties have net negative unfavorable ratings with the GOP’s being -7 percent while the Democratic Party’s is -10 percent.

And as the second special legislative session winds down, Texas voters have a -20 percent net approval rating for the state legislature.

Read the full survey here.

Most Texas Democrats Have Not Returned Their Legislative Payments from Quorum Break

A public information request by the Texas Freedom Coalition (TFC) showed that the House Business Office had only received a per diem reimbursement from one quorum-breaking Democratic member: Rep. Bobby Guerra (D-Mission). The records span from July 12, the date Democrats flew to Washington, D.C., through August 6.

After the quorum break, Speaker Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont) called on truant members to return their pay checks. Members who had previously committed to returning their per diems but had not as of the TFC’s inquiry were:

  • Rafael Anchía (D-Dallas)
  • Philip Cortez (D-San Antonio)
  • Vikki Goodwin (D-Austin)
  • Donna Howard (D-Austin)
  • Julie Johnson (D-Carrollton)
  • Eddie Lucio, III (D-Brownsville)
  • Jon Rosenthal (D-Houston)
  • James Talarico (D-Round Rock)
  • Gene Wu (D-Houston)
  • Erin Zweiner (D-Driftwood)

Anchía’s office reached out to The Texan after the TFC inquiry was made public and provided documents showing his July per diems had been reimbursed on August 16.

Per diem payments cannot be withheld in advance of payment and must be reimbursed.

Texas Civics Project Board Appointments Made

The Texas legislature’s rebuke of the New York Times’ “1619 Project” now officially has appointees set to oversee the historical undertaking aimed at “promot[ing] patriotic education and increase awareness of the Texas values that continue to stimulate boundless prosperity across this state.”

Dubbed the “1836 Project,” Governor Greg Abbott appointed three individuals to head up its advisory committee: professor emeritus at Sam Houston State University Carolina Castillo Crimm, director of The Texas Center at Schreiner University Don Frazier, and CEO of the Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF) Kevin Roberts.

Roberts, who earned a PhD from the University of Texas at Austin and has been with TPPF since 2016, will preside over the advisory committee and each term lasts until 2023.

“Our goal will be to tell the complete and accurate story of Texas’s evolution from wild frontier to global leader, and all the rich and fascinating history in between,” Roberts said of the appointment.

He added, “It is critical that future generations have a clear understanding of the remarkable bravery and resolve shown by the founders of Texas.”

“They fought to build a society based on individual liberty, justice, and self-determination — values that live on today in each and every Texan, natural-born or recently adopted. The story of Texas includes everyone, and our work on the committee will emphasize that.”


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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.