As local governments across Texas continue to implement mask mandates in defiance of Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order attempting to prohibit such action, his Republican challengers are heating up their criticism and calling on the governor to do more.

This week, a growing wave of officials in cities from San Antonio to Dallas to Houston have commanded new mask mandates on citizens. Dallas and Austin Independent School District superintendents are forcing all students, employees, and visitors on school campuses to wear masks. Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner is requiring masks on all city employees on city property. 

Though the state Legislature had the opportunity to put an official ban on mask mandates from local officials into law, the Texas House voted down such a proposal earlier this year. 

That has caused some of Abbott’s challengers in the upcoming 2022 Republican primary to urge Abbott and the state Legislature to take action.

Former State Sen. Don Huffines called the mandates “an attack on the rights and liberties of Texans and a glaring example of gross overreach by local governments.”

“While Greg Abbott brags about banning mask mandates in Texas, the largest and most populous counties in the state are imposing them on citizens,” said Huffines.

“It is past time for Greg Abbott and the Texas Legislature to take the necessary steps to override these mandates and impose real consequences on any local government official or bureaucrat who is trying to implement them, whether they are a mayor, county judge, or superintendent. These attacks on Texans’ rights must end immediately,” he added.

Humorist and media personality Chad Prather agreed, saying the issue needed to be added to a special session call, along with other Republican priorities.

“Our freedoms and our children’s freedoms continue to be infringed upon by overzealous and controlling politicians. We live in a state that sanctions child abuse at every level, from masks to mutilations,” Prather told Texas Scorecard. “Your child has a better chance of being eaten by a shark in a lake in Kansas than dying from COVID. Let them breathe free air, and let’s mandate that this abuse ends NOW!”

“Enough is enough. Our representatives must be held accountable to the will of the people that they supposedly represent. Do the job or step aside for people that love the State of Texas and are prepared to fight for Texans’ freedoms and liberty, which is exactly the reason that I am running for governor,” Prather added. 

Former Texas GOP Chairman Allen West took aim at Democrat local officials, telling Texas Scorecard it is time to stop allowing “the progressive socialist leftists in Texas to establish tyrannical fiefdoms where they undermine individuals,” adding that Texans should make their own decisions on masks and vaccines.

“If we are now living under mandates, then we no longer reside in a constitutional republic. Instead of being governed, we are being ruled. We have a representative democracy for a reason … for the will and voice of the people to be heard, as opposed to tin-pot dictators like a Clay Jenkins in Dallas County or Lina Hidalgo in Harris County,” said West. 

Lawsuits by local officials over mask mandates are likely to make their way to the Supreme Court of Texas. Currently, the Texas House is frozen from taking action, as it has been without a quorum of lawmakers for nearly a month.

Brandon Waltens

Brandon serves as the Senior Editor for Texas Scorecard. After managing successful campaigns for top conservative legislators and serving as a Chief of Staff in the Texas Capitol, Brandon moved outside the dome in order to shine a spotlight on conservative victories and establishment corruption in Austin. @bwaltens