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What Does Texas' Political Landscape Look Like With Biden In Office? A Political Analyst Responds

Ryan E. Poppe

TPR’s Jerry Clayton spoke with Scott Braddock, political analyst and editor of the Quorum Report, about the new political landscape in Texas since the new administration has taken over. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Jerry Clayton: Now that the dust has settled from the 2020 election, what does the political landscape look like for the Republican Party here in Texas?

Scott Braddock: In a lot of ways, it's sort of a return to the good old days for some of these Texas Republicans because you have a Democratic president sworn in just this past week and is already immediately clashing with Texas Republicans on a whole host of issues and issues that are very important to the state, including immigration.

You saw that the attorney general of Texas is already threatening to sue the federal government. President Biden moves forward with suspending some deportations and then on the energy issue as well on energy as President Biden move quickly to get rid of the permitting process and to nix the permit for the Keystone XL Pipeline, which has been controversial, going all the way back to the George W. Bush administration. This is one of those issues where Texas Republicans will stand up and say that the Democratic administration doesn't understand how our economy works here. And I would say, just in fairness on that specific project, there's not a lot of economic impact to Texas. That's a pipeline that would take tar sands crude from Canada down to a site in Nebraska. So the real losers on that is Canada, not Texas.

Clayton: Now that there's basically a 50/50 congressional split in Washington, do you see more congressional Republicans that may be ready to reach across the aisle more than they have in the past? Or is it just going to be more gridlock?

Braddock: It seemed that the Republican leader in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, was setting the table for what you're talking about as far as trying to find some common ground between the Republicans and the Democrats. And he has partisan reasons to say this, but I would say it's objectively true that the country didn't ask for or mandate a far left lurch in our government.

There was a sound rejection of President Trump in both the Electoral College and the popular vote. However, Republicans did pretty well in their elections as a slimmer majority for Democrats in the U.S. House. There's basically an evenly divided Senate. McConnell was saying, and I would agree with this, that the leadership in Washington needs to find common ground because that's what the American people have set the table for by creating a basically evenly divided government.

Clayton: There's a group of Senate Democrats that have filed an ethics complaint against Ted Cruz. And, of course, you've got lots of newspapers, editorials calling for Cruz to resign. What do you think will come of all this?

Braddock: Senator Cruz is probably safe in his seat. There's been a lot of speculation about whether he would be forced to resign. I don't see that happening. There's been other speculation about whether the U.S. Senate would vote to expel him, which would take a two thirds vote. I don't think they're going to find 17 Republicans to go along with a vote like that. I can imagine every Democrat voting to pick Senator Cruz out of the U.S. Senate, but the Senate doesn't work that way.

If you had a vote on it this past week or two weeks ago, right after the riot in Washington, I could imagine the Senate would vote to get rid of Senator Cruz. They were very angry with him for his role in inciting that riot. Senator Cruz still has his eyes on running for the White House in2024. Big question mark here is whether or not people are going to remember his role in what happened this Jan. 6 or will people move beyond that? And the bigger question is whether or not we're still dealing with the fallout from the Trump era in 2022 and 2024, and whether Republican primary voters are still going to be looking at those Republicans running for office, whether they're still going to evaluate them based on whether they were with President Trump and standing by his side until the very bitter end. Right now, Cruz is actually winning on that count, but does that have durability to it? We'll find out together.

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Jerry Clayton can be reached at jerry@tpr.org or on Twitter at @jerryclayton.