Texas Legislature

If Not for Trump, We'd All Be Talking About Governor Abbott's Tweets

Gov. Greg Abbott, master tweeter
Gov. Greg Abbott, master tweeter Gage Skidmore
Greg Abbott gets away with a lot.

He's a firebrand, far-right conservative in a state that's tilted significantly more liberal over the last five years. He didn't get much done during his first term — the state's property tax and school finance system are still in shambles — and, unlike his two predecessors in the governor's mansion, he isn't viewed as a rising star in the Republican Party. 

Despite all that, Abbott remains popular. He won re-election in November by 13 points over former Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez, easily triumphing by the biggest margin in any statewide race. Abbott also doesn't get painted into the same "ain't Texas crazy" box as Attorney General Ken Paxton or Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller despite his having the same politics as the former and only a slightly less loopy social media presence than the latter.

Abbott's Twitter feed is filled with right-wing memes, breathless warnings about gangs and pronouncements that will never see the light of day as policy. It's like President Donald Trump Lite, which might explain why the governor rarely takes heat for tweets. He gets away with it because he isn't the worst offender in the room. 

Last week, Abbott unleashed an insulting broadside against Houston Independent School District, leading us to take a spin through the rest of his Twitter history. Here's some of what you may have missed:

Abbott loves, loves, to tweet about crimes linked to gangs or gang members. If there's a provocative photo of a suspect, or a potential connection to undocumented immigrants, that's even better. Abbott loves guns, especially when he can express that love with a meme. He's also dead set on every red-blooded Texan owning one. Abbott believes anything bad anyone says about abortion. Remember that time former Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina regaled a debate audience with a story about video shot at a Planned Parenthood that showed "a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking, while someone says, 'We have to keep it alive to harvest its brain'"? The video didn't exist, but Abbott was right there with the former HP CEO, tweeting along. Spreading lies about abortions on Twitter is just something Abbott does. He's made false claims about Texas Planned Parenthood's "harvesting baby body parts" and described the U.S.'s most common procedure for second-trimester abortions as "tearing babies limb from limb." Frequently, he links to anti-abortion activist sites like LifeNews. There are promises he absolutely can't keep, too.
Then there was the time he fell for the mother of all stupid conspiracy theories, giving life to a generation of internet nut balls. And finally, this pun. Truly unforgivable.
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Stephen Young has written about Dallas news for the Observer since 2014. He's a Dallas native and a graduate of the University of North Texas.
Contact: Stephen Young