Efforts by Republican grassroots to formally rebuke Gov. Greg Abbott for his string of unilateral executive orders in response to the Chinese coronavirus are gaining momentum, as the Montgomery County GOP unanimously approved a censure resolution on Wednesday, and several other counties are set to consider similar efforts.
In a 40-0 vote, members of the Montgomery County Republican Party’s executive committee voted to approve a resolution officially censuring Abbott for “creating law via executive order,” citing the $295 million deal to bring contact tracing to Texas, his statewide mask mandate, and executive orders that closed down certain businesses.
While Montgomery County is not the first county to pass a resolution censuring Abbott, they are by far the largest. The suburban Houston-area county is home to more than 607,000 residents and is the 11th-most populous county in the state. It’s also the second-largest Republican county in the state.
Other county parties, including those of Denton and Hood County, are reportedly preparing to consider similar resolutions in the upcoming days. These resolutions will be considered during the upcoming Republican Party of Texas convention next week.
A goal of party activists for years, the party’s censure rule was passed at the Texas GOP’s 2016 convention and provides an opportunity for Republicans frustrated with their elected Republican lawmakers to formally reprimand them for violating “core principles” of the party.
Delegates to the 2018 RPT convention successfully censured former State Rep. Byron Cook of Corsicana after the State Republican Executive Committee similarly censured then-Speaker of the Texas House Joe Straus earlier that year.
The full Montgomery County resolution can be read below:
“WHEREAS, the preamble of Platform of the Republican Party of Texas declares, ‘We strive to preserve the freedom given to us by God, implemented by our Founding Fathers, and embodied in the Constitution’; and
“WHEREAS, Rule 44 of the Republican Party of Texas allows the party to censure a Republican office holder who takes three or more actions during a biennium in opposition to the core principles of the Republican Party of Texas platform; and
“WHEREAS, Governor Greg Abbott acted in disregard of the Texas Constitution Art. II, Sec 1, and the constitutional separation of powers when he exceeded his constitutional authority as governor by repeatedly creating law via executive order, bypassing the legislature in violation of RPT Principle 1, which supports, ‘strict adherence to the original language and intent of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitutions of the United States and of Texas,’ and
“WHEREAS, Governor Greg Abbott exceeded his constitutional authority as governor by repeatedly creating law via executive order and awarding a $295 million contract for contact tracing without legislative approval or oversight, in violation of RPT Principle 4, which supports, ‘Limiting government power to those items enumerated in the United States and Texas Constitutions,’ and
“WHEREAS, Governor Greg Abbott mandated masks, limited gatherings, closed businesses, and mandated how people should conduct their personal interactions against their will under threat of fines, in violating of RPT Principle 5 which supports, ‘Personal accountability and responsibility,’ and
“WHEREAS, Governor Greg Abbott shut down private businesses causing millions of Texans to face unemployment, treating certain people as ‘unessential,’ further harassing small business owners with bureaucratic regulators, picked winners and losers, and devastated the Texas economy in violation of RPT Principle 9 which supports, ‘A free enterprise society unencumbered by government interference or subsidies,’
“THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, In accordance with Rule 44 of the Rules of the Republican Party of Texas, the Executive Committee of the Republican Party of Montgomery County, meeting July 08, 2020, a quorum being present, by a vote of at least two-thirds present and voting, hereby censures Governor Greg Abbott, a public office holder representing the entirety of Montgomery County, for actions violating more than three of the core principles of the RPT platform;
“BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, We request this censure be considered and sustained by the delegates of the 2020 Republican Party State Convention assembled, and that the penalties provided in RPT Rule 44 be imposed.”