Former Representative Beto O’Rourke (D) is taking advantage of Texans’ concerns about their power grid following the devastating winter storm earlier this year in his bid to overthrow the governor. Greg abbottGreg Abbott Hillicon Valley – Apple Sues Israeli Spyware Developer McConaughey in Texas: ‘I’ll Let You Know Shortly’ Samsung Chooses Texas City for B Chip Factory: Report MORE (R).
O’Rourke’s campaign sees the grid as a solid wedge problem in the traditionally red state, and will emphasize what it characterizes as Abbott’s failures to defend its constituents from deadly temperatures and rising energy bills.
“People in their homes were literally freezing, and it was because their government had failed them,” campaign manager Nick Rathod said in an interview. “They literally felt it, and that’s why it resonates well with Texans.”
O’Rourke launched his offering earlier this month talking about Winter Storm Uri, the blizzard of February and the deep freeze that has been it is estimated to contribute to up to 700 deaths amid power outages.
“I am running for governor and I want to tell you why,” the former presidential candidate said in a video. “Last February, when the power grid failed and millions of our fellow Texans were left without power, which meant that the lights would not turn off, the heating would not work and very soon their pipes froze and the water stopped flowing, they were abandoned by those who were chosen to serve and care for them ”.
O’Rourke has also brought up the events of the storm campaign, telling a crowd in Corpus Christi: “Some of you told me you were without lights, no heat, or running water for over a week.”
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– Beto O’RourkeBeto O’RourkeMcConaughey on Texas Race: ‘I’ll Let You Know Shortly’ O’Rourke Raises M in First 24 Hours of Texas Governor’s Campaign The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by ExxonMobil – Biden Praises Infrastructure Act , talk to Xi from China MORE (@BetoORourke) November 19, 2021
And the storm has appeared on O’Rourke’s social media and Facebook ads, according to the Facebook Ads Library.
Abbott’s campaign did not respond to multiple requests for comment from The Hill.
But Texas-based Republican strategist Brendan Steinhauser said that right now, with nearly a year to go before the midterm elections, he doesn’t think the Republican Party should be overly concerned, given the prevalence of other issues.
“I am not convinced that the winter storm and the aftermath will be front and center of voters’ minds in September and October 2022,” Steinhauser said.
He added that he believes Texas voters will focus more on the economy, border security and cultural issues such as mask mandates and school curricula.
Steinhauser said he believes Abbott’s response to the storm’s attacks should be twofold, focusing on the issues he’s strong in and also noting that he legislative changes approved in its aftermath.
That legislation requires weatherization of power generators and transmission lines to help them better withstand extreme weather, and says natural gas companies will have to do the same if regulators say they are “critical.”
But leave out updates for houses and pipes, and utility prices are also expected to rise.
Rathod said the O’Rourke campaign will specifically seek to hit the governor for those price increases, calling it an “Abbott tax.”
He said that if O’Rourke is elected, he would move toward “securing the grid in a way that Abbott’s management has not,” seek to “roll back” price increases and seek additional ways to “fully weatherize” it.
O’Rourke, who failed in an earlier attempt to unseat the senator. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward Cruz Human rights groups sound the alarm over Interpol elections CNN broadcasts live footage of its reports on the censorship of a tennis star in China Cruz: I hope American athletes’ go there and kick their communist butts’ at the Beijing Olympics MORE (R-Texas), faces an uphill battle, starting averaging several points behind Abbott in opinion polls. Texas has not elected a Republican governor since the 1990s.
Democrats across the country face bleak prospects in 2022, with President BidenJoe BidenKyle Rittenhouse: No Money Traded For Tucker Carlson Interview, Overnight Energy & Environment Documentary Series – Biden To Release 50 Million Barrels Of Oil Reserve On The Money – Biden: America Should ‘Rest Easy’ On Prices MOREThe underwater approval rating and Republicans topped their 2020 results in recent gubernatorial elections in Virginia and New Jersey.
But that could be another reason for O’Rourke’s campaign to focus on the power grid, emphasizing a local issue rather than a national one.
“We’re going to talk to Texans about Texas,” Rathod said. “We will go everywhere, we will talk to everyone, we will attract everyone and we will talk about issues like the network that resonate with Texans everywhere.”
Texas has a unique situation with its electrical grid. Most of the country is part of the Eastern Interconnection or Western Interconnection, but most of Texas is on its own grid, called the Texas Interconnection, which receives very little power from outside the state.
It is also subject to fewer federal regulations because it does not cross state lines.
During the winter storm, many Texans were affected by both power outages and high electricity bills. News reports cited charges up to $ 17,000, but state attorney general Ken Paxton (R) later announced that unpaid electric bills would be forgiven as part of a bankruptcy plan with Griddy Energy.
At the time, Abbott sought to blame renewables, telling Fox News, “our wind power and our solar power went out.”
“That pushed Texas into a state where it lacked power at the state level. … It just shows that fossil fuels are necessary, ”he said in February.
But recent findings from energy regulators show that natural gas outages, slowdowns, and starting failures accounted for 56 percent of the energy lost, wind accounted for 23 percent, and coal accounted for 18 percent.
That report, from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), said most of the problems were caused by problems with freezing or fuel supply and were They recommended upgrades for power plants so they can operate in cold temperatures. and measures to require natural gas infrastructure to protect against freezing.
The report is not the first of its kind, as in 2011, FERC and NERC similarly warned that the network was not prepared for cold temperatures.
And while Steinhauser said he doesn’t think Democrats will make a big deal out of this next year, his opinion could change if additional problems occur.
“The only thing that would make me change my mind would be another event, a problem that actually happens in real time, because people have a short memory,” he said.