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Texas Governor Opened the Bars and Lone Star Republicans Still Hate Him

After a summer surge that devastated the state’s plans to cut back on restrictions, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has tried to put his state back on the reopening track. In late August, he hinted at new reopening plans being on the way before rolling out an executive order in September that boosted the capacity allowed in places like restaurants and shops. And last week Abbott took action on bars in the state, which he had ordered closed back in late June amid the surge, saying the venues could soon reopen at as high as 50 percent capacity in most places if their county’s judge agreed to the move.

But none of that has stopped some key figures in Abbott’s own party from picking him apart after the Texas Republican Party faithful on the state’s Republican Executive Committee called last month to see the state fully reopened from his measures.

Stephen Broden, a member of the committee who is also a pastor, said he was “disappointed” in Abbott and “disgusted with his methodology and his approach.”

And Ruth Cremin, who serves as the party’s executive committeewoman in Senate District 24 went even further, saying the government overreach is ruining the state and that Abbott is “not acting at all like a Republican.”

“I wouldn’t vote for him to be anything at this point,” she said.

Last weekend the chairman of the state GOP made clear at a rally near the governor’s mansion in Austin that the party wanted more from their chief executive.

Speaking to the attendees, Texas Republican Party Chairman Allen West read through a resolution that he said had been passed overwhelmingly by the state’s GOP executive committee on Sept. 19 that called on Abbott to “immediately rescind all COVID-related mandates, closures and restrictions to open Texas now.”

As he started speaking, some in the crowd chanted “West for Governor,” though the chairman downplayed the show of enthusiasm, according to a YouTube video of his comments posted by the state party.

West, the former Florida congressman who rode into office on the 2010 Tea Party wave and only went on to serve one term, now heads the Texas Republican Party at a time when Democrats in the state are eager to try and flip the state blue in the presidential election and wrestle back control of the Texas House. But last Saturday, less than four weeks out from election day and days before early voting started, West was instead scolding one of the leading members of his own party. Abbott is not on the ballot this cycle.

“I want you to leave here today and understand one simple thing,” West told the audience. “Government is not in existence to protect your health. Government is in existence to protect your rights… so we call upon the governor to do what is right for the people of the great state of Texas, so that Texas can continue to be a leader.”

Abbott has been no stranger to attacks from within his own party recently, according to The Texas Tribune, with the state’s GOP agriculture commissioner also joining in at the event to say “quite frankly, governor, your cure is worse than the disease,” according to the news organization.

Neither a spokesman for Abbott or the state party responded to an email seeking comment for this story. But if the state fully reopened in the way some Republicans in Texas would like, the consequences could be dire as the spread of the coronavirus continues with no clear timeline on when a vaccine will be made available.