After a summer of protests and rising violent crime in Texas’s largest cities, Gov. Greg Abbott and other Republicans are banking on a “law and order” message to fend off an unprecedented Democratic push to win control of the state House of Representatives for the first time in two decades. There are signs the message has fallen flat, even with suburban Republican voters who say efforts to mirror President Donald Trump’s demonization of Democratic-run cities and social justice demonstrations needlessly stoke fear and exacerbate political divisiveness, the Washington Post reports. In the Republican stronghold of Collin County, home to two of the nation’s most competitive state legislative contests, Republican candidates cite rising crime rates in neighboring Dallas, where homicides are hovering near a 10-year high.
Lifelong Republican Jim Murry said he shakes his head — or shouts at his television screen — when he hears Abbott or Trump rail against “violent” protesters or accuse Democrats of wanting to decimate local police forces. “To me, it’s all unfounded fear,” said Murry, 64, as he stood among his neighbors’ spacious homes and manicured lawns in Plano, a Dallas suburb. The idea that Democrats “are going to ruin the suburbs is just ridiculous. Crime is not really an issue here.” In many parts of Plano, Trump lawn signs still outnumber those supporting Biden, especially in the most affluent neighborhoods, and some residents say Democrats are too soft on crime. One resident said several neighbors bought guns after racial justice protests erupted this summer. GOP polling shows a vast majority of suburban Texas voters reject “defunding the police,” said Austin Chambers of the Republican State Leadership Committee — a message the GOP has successfully tied to Democratic candidates in some voters’ minds over Democrats’ objections.