Texas Political Landscape Could Change Post-Harvey


There has been a lot of talk about the spirit of bipartisanship in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, but not everyone's stock is rising.

That means change could be ahead for Texas' political landscape.

Let's start with our two U.S. senators.  Not to say John Cornyn and Ted Cruz are political foes, but their relationship has been cold at best.  Now we hear Cornyn has endorsed Cruz for re-election.

“The senators haven’t always gotten along personally, but I think Cornyn understands the party needs to be unified and everything else is secondary to that,” says Brandon Rottinghaus, political science professor at University of Houston.

Rottinghaus says one thing nobody is talking about since the storm is Gov. Greg Abbott's special session, and a possible challenge by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick or Speaker Joe Straus.

“Abbott was popular beforehand and if things are handled well at this level and the recovery goes somewhat smoothly, then he’ll get a bump because it will be recognized that he was the one who really was at the tip of the spear,” he says.

One person having a rough time since Harvey is Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner whose property tax proposal went over like a lead balloon

But one change since the last election could ultimately help him win another term.  That's because voters extended both city council and the mayor's term in office.

“I think the one thing the mayor has on his side is time,” says Rottinghaus.  “In two more years a lot of things are going to happen, the city’s finances are going to recover, you’re going to have a pension plan back in place that helps the city’s finances.”

Disasters like Harvey also attract scores of newcomers to local politics, thinking they can do a better job, so Rottinghaus expects interest to grow in things like your local water districts and various other civic boards.

“If we don’t have people willing to put the time in and invest in local government, which is where most of the local governing happens, then you don’t have a fully functioning democracy.”


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