This week Governor Greg Abbott will take the oath of office and begin his second term at the helm of the reddest of red states – Texas. And, I’m predicting the national media will unsurprisingly ask, in hopes of a future blue wave and Beto’s next livestream, whether this is the last time a Republican Governor will take the oath of office in Texas.
Who knows, but I’m betting that Abbott can hold this office as long as he wants, and as long as he continues to lead as he has in the past year.
The world has gotten decidedly more complex and contentious since Abbott first took the oath as governor four years ago when he inherited a bustling state and booming economy from his predecessor, Rick Perry.
Political discourse has diminished dramatically. Some would say it’s the rise of Trump, but it’s not Trump alone – it’s an ever-increasing conflict of personalities within a media race toward the last word in a seemingly meaningless never-ending argument.
Trust in public institutions is eroding, with each reporting cycle bringing a new scandal, rip in the fabric of society or breach of personal security.
And disaster looms over the horizon. Here in Texas, hurricanes batter our Gulf Coast and we watch from afar as wildfires burn our neighbors on the West Coast.
Through it all, Governor Abbott has remained a calming presence among the chaos. He is seldom on the attack of a political opponent, his administration has avoided major scandal and his actions through Harvey exemplify a kind of leadership the public desires and that voters seek.
Abbott provided the classic model for response during one of the state’s most harrowing of crises – Hurricane Harvey. He led. Boldly.
In August 2017, Hurricane Harvey blew in from the Gulf and made history as a massive, havoc-wreaking storm. Dumping record amounts of rain on South Texas, the Category 4 storm relentlessly barraged our southern coast with wind and water for days.
Instead of awaiting the arrival of a federal response, Abbott took initiative before the storm even struck our coast, swiftly ordering the state national guard and other Texas-based resources into action. Most notably, immediately following the storm, he consolidated decision-making and coordination by appointing a “hurricane czar” in Texas A&M Chancellor John Sharp – minimizing red tape, providing a single point of action and response.
Never one to shy away from a challenge, Governor Abbott confronted Harvey head on and led in response and recovery efforts. His communications with the federal government, including meetings with leaders in our nation’s capital, proved lucrative in the form of much-needed funding for the recovery process. His swift response and leadership were exactly what the Lone Star State needed during this unprecedented crisis.
A year later, he reported back to the public and the Texas Legislature on where and when changes in procedures should be made. Eye of the Storm, A Report of the Governor’s Commission to Rebuild Texas is an eye-opening and candid look at the shortcomings of the state’s response and a call for improvements and modifications to be made.
Abbott enjoys high approval ratings – aggregate national polling numbers had him at 59 percent approval ratings in the Spring of 2018. Our own Crosswind Texas Pulse shows that 64-percent of Texans approve of the job he has done as governor, revealing that strong leadership has allowed him to weather even the toughest of storms.
In my book, he has earned those high ratings – and a second term in office.