Former Mike Pence aide slams Texas voter suppression bill as shameless ‘grift’

Former Mike Pence aide slams Texas voter suppression bill as shameless ‘grift’

One of the worst nightmares of the Republican National Committee is that Texas will someday become a swing state or even a blue state. In order to prevent that from happening, Gov. Greg Abbott and the Republican majority in the state legislature have been aggressively pushing a voter suppression bill. Never Trump conservative and El Paso native Olivia Troye, who now heads the Republican Accountability Project, slams that bill in an article published by The Bulwark on July 15 — stressing that it isn't about "election integrity," but is shameless "grift" on the part of the Texas GOP.

Troye has no problem with Texas being conservative, but she considers herself a "John McCain Republican" and has been a blistering critic of Trumpism. And Troye, who worked in former Vice President Mike Pence's office before rebelling over then-President Donald Trump's COVID-19 response and endorsing Joe Biden in the 2020 election, obviously believes that Texas Republicans should win based on ideas — not suppressing votes via Texas House Bill 3 or Texas Senate Bill 1.

"From the governor's mansion down to the statehouse floor, the Republican push for these unnecessary, bad-faith bills is a three-layer grift," Troye warns. "At the first level of the grift, SB 1 and HB 3 are all rooted in the Big Lie that Donald Trump won the 2020 election. Republicans are channeling Elmer Fudd, searching for voter fraud that doesn't exist."

Troye goes on to say that "the second layer of the grift emanates from the governor's mansion."

"Greg Abbott's political aspirations are no secret," Troye writes. "He's prepared for a tough reelection campaign by cobbling together a $55 million war chest, in part by adding $19 million in the last ten days of June alone — just after he announced he would call the legislature into special session to consider, among other measures, SB 1 and HB 3."

According to Troye, the "third grift" of SB1/HB3 "serves Texan legislators like Bryan Hughes, the Republican state senator who has led the charge for 'election integrity' in Austin and authored SB 1."

Troye explains, "Formulating bad policy to solve nonexistent problems is a surefire way to ward off a challenge from the right. It's red meat for a ruby-red base, and by helping legislators like Hughes serve it up, Abbott can win allies. But while SB 1 and HB 3 may be effective for campaigning and feeding the frenzy of Fox News, they have the unusual distinction of being politically costly — at least, potentially so — and bad policy."

Politically, Texas is a complex state. Although Texas is light red, it isn't deep red like Wyoming, Idaho, Nebraska, Alabama or Mississippi. In 2020, Trump defeated now-President Joe Biden by 6% in Texas compared to 30% in Idaho and 43% in Wyoming. Moreover, Democrat Beto O'Rourke narrowly lost to Sen. Ted Cruz in Texas' 2018 U.S. Senate race.

Democrats are still struggling in statewide races in Texas, but not as badly as they did during the 1990s or 2000s. And if Democrats can greatly increase voter turnout in Democrat-friendly urban centers like Houston, Austin, Dallas, El Paso and San Antonio, it will not be good news for the Republican Party.

Troye, who voted for Biden, believes that Republicans should win in Texas by having good ideas — not making it harder to vote.

"The Lone Star State's absentee voting laws are already among the strictest in the country," Troye observes. "SB 1 and HB 3 even ban the use of drop boxes, a tried and tested practice that helped many Americans vote at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Republicans in Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and elsewhere are watching. They are preparing their next salvo of attacks on the electoral process and are gearing up for grifts of their own. Are we ready?"

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