A Republican lawmaker says he is withdrawing his support for Gov. Greg Abbott, motivated by Abbott’s handling of the Chinese coronavirus.

State Rep. Steve Toth (R–The Woodlands) made the announcement in an open letter released on Tuesday.

“Having exhausted every attempt at persuasion, I am writing to inform you of my decision to withdraw my support for your leadership as the elected Governor of the State of Texas,” wrote Toth.

Toth has been a vocal critic of Abbott’s unilateral executive orders and mandates, which have forced millions of Texans out of work and caused businesses to permanently shutter. He is also among a group of Republican lawmakers who have filed a lawsuit against Abbott in August in opposition to a $295 million agreement he entered into with tech firm MTX Group to bring contact tracing to Texas.

In his letter, Toth takes issue with Abbott’s latest announcement that restaurants and retail stores could only open to 75 percent capacity, while bars were forced to remain closed—despite hospitalization rates remaining low in most parts of the state.

“What started as 15 days to flatten the curve has turned into six months of misery to the small-business owners of House District 15,” said Toth.

“By your demonstrated lack of leadership, you have betrayed the trust of conservative Texans across your state. As a former ardent supporter, I must condemn your management of the State’s response and formally announce that I am withdrawing my personal support of your actions,” Toth concludes.

The letter comes just days after the Republican Party of Texas’ executive committee voted nearly unanimously to urge Abbott to reopen Texas.

The move represents a fast deterioration of Abbott’s relationship with the two-term legislator. Just last December, Abbott said he was “proud” to endorse Toth and “look[ed] forward to their continued partnership to keep Texas on top.”

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