Dave McNeely

Donald Trump put on some fundraisers in Austin August 22 (Tuesday), plus the requisite rally, and some top Texas Republicans attended at least parts of the events.

But some others didn't. They found they had scheduling conflicts, or other things to do. Like maybe mow their lawn.

Among attendees at various events were Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, former Gov. Rick Perry, and Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller.

The no-shows included current Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, both Texans in the United States Senate – Ted Cruz and John Cornyn – Atty. Gen. Ken Paxton; Texas House Speaker Joe Straus; and Land Commissioner George P. Bush.  

Abbott's excuse was a follow-up treatment Tuesday night at the Brooke Army Medical Hospital burn unit in San Antonio, for legs scalded by spilled boiling water during a Wyoming vacation last month.

Abbott has said he'll vote for Trump, though it's been anything but a vigorous endorsement. Sen. Cornyn counseled Republicans at the party's state convention to vote for Trump. Paxton also has said he'll vote for him.

As for George P. Bush – well, that's been an evolution, from a wait-and-see, to a hold-your-nose endorsement. It seems to be driven far more by a sense of potential down-the-road political need on Bush's part, than by even an inkling of enthusiasm.

In June, when George P. was asked whether he was for Trump, he replied that "I, along with others, are not in a position to endorse at this time because of concerns about his rhetoric and his inability to create a campaign that brings people together."

Part of the reason is that having Trump at the front of the Republican Party is sort of like having a dogsled team with a rabid lead dog -- who is as likely to hike a hind leg at one of the other dogs as at a tree.

That makes the other dogs in the team skittish, to say the least. And the Republicans riding on the dogsled are praying the lead dog will indeed lead them to Nome, as promised, rather than off a glacier into the ocean.

But George P., as the leading vote-getter among Republican candidates for statewide administrative offices in 2014, has also been named by State Chairman Tom Mechler to be the Texas GOP's "Victory Chairman."

As such, he is supposed to lead fundraising and get-out-the-vote efforts to elect Republicans up and down the Texas ballot in 2016.

At an Aug. 6 meeting in Austin of the Republican party's executive committee and county chairs, Bush reluctantly recommended voting for Trump, rather than continue siding with his famous family -- George H. W. Bush (41), Uncle George W. Bush (43), and dad Jeb, who Trump in the presidential nomination contest had nicknamed "Low Energy Jeb" -- who aren't planning to vote for Trump in November.

"I know a lot of us in this room had dogs in the fight in the primary, leading up to the race," Bush said, according to a video from an audience member provided to the Texas Tribune. "But you know what? It's time to put it aside.

"It's time to put it aside. And you know, from Team Bush, it's a bitter pill to swallow," Bush acknowledged. "But you know what? You get back up, and you help the man that won, and you make sure that you stop Hillary Clinton."

Bush, whose ambitions aren't expected to top out at land commissioner, apparently doesn't want to leave himself exposed to charges from future opponents that he's not a Republican Team Player.

Whether this works to the long-term benefit of George P.'s political career, or detriment, remains to be seen.

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Not surprising for his elsewhereness was U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, whom Trump had nicknamed "Lyin' Ted" during their progressively nastier battle for the nomination.

After all, Trump had allowed one-time friend Cruz to make a prime-time speech at the Republican National Convention. But Cruz's relationship with Trump had so soured that Cruz pointedly told convention delegates to "vote your conscience," rather than endorsing Trump.

Trump had said after Cruz's speech that he might form a Super PAC to oppose Cruz's Senate re-election in 2018.

Trump was asked at one of the Austin fundraisers, with Perry in the room, about a possible challenge to Cruz by Perry. Trump was enthusiastic about Perry's chances, but didn't endorse the former governor.

"I'll tell you what, I've been hearing a lot about that, and I don't know if he wants to do it, but boy, will he do well," Trump said of his former competitor for the GOP nomination, who has since enthusiastically endorsed Trump. "People love him in Texas, and he was one great governor."


Contact McNeely at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 512/458-2963.


EDITORS: For quick action, call my cell at 512/751-3540.


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