Enjoy the Weekend, Because Next Week Is Going to Be an Especially Dumb One for Texas Politics

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If you're the type of person who doesn't have a taste for political sideshows, next week might be a good one to get out of Texas and head somewhere like Easter Island or anyplace, really that isn't going to have to deal with Michael Q. Sullivan, his recording and President Donald Trump's traveling circus all in the same seven days.

A quick refresher on the recording story, because it's been awhile. Sullivan is a Rasputin-like figure in Texas conservative politics. He'd tell you he's a watchdog, out to protect Texans from higher taxes, regulation and abortion. Establishment and moderate Republicans would call him something else.

On June 12, Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen and Dustin Burrows, the head of the Texas House Republican caucus, met with Sullivan. Bonnen and Sullivan agree the meeting took place, but not on much else.

A little more than a month later, Sullivan published his version of what happened on his website, Empower Texans. Bonnen, Sullivan said, offered him a quid pro quo: If Sullivan attacked a Bonnen-approved list of 10 GOP House members during the 2020 Republican primary, Empower Texas would get media credentials for the House floor during the 2021 session of the Legislature, a privilege that's previously been denied to the advocacy group by Bonnen and the previous House speaker, Joe Straus.

In the two-plus months since Sullivan announced the existence of the tape, he's played it for multiple Republican lawmakers and activists. To a person, they've backed up Sullivan's version of his conversation with the speaker. Burrows resigned as GOP caucus leader in mid-August, and Bonnen apologized for saying "terrible things" during the meeting.

Despite all of that, not to mention calls from the state's GOP leadership to release the tape and a lawsuit from Texas Democrats, Sullivan has held fast, milking the recording for all it's worth.

That ends next week. Thursday, Sullivan announced on Twitter that he's going to make the recording public.

Sullivan claims that he's withheld the tape to protect the families and reputations of those mentioned and because Democrats might use the recording to undermine the GOP. Regardless of whether that's true, Sullivan's two months in the spotlight are about to end in a blaze of glory, as Texas' politicians, political media and activists are about to spend a week going over the recording like it was something out of the Nixon administration.

Which brings us to the other sideshow coming to town. Thursday, Trump and at least one of his brood — Ivanka Trump and husband Jared Kushner are reportedly making the trip — will descend on North Texas, first to visit a Louis Vuitton workshop in Johnson County and then for a rally at American Airlines Center in Victory Park.

Judging from Trump's recent rallies, those who venture inside to hear the president will be treated to a meandering defense of his calls for foreign countries to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, tales of how he's being impeached for doing such a good job and maybe, if they're lucky, a couple of boasts about the unscalable wall his administration is putting up on the southern border. If the crowd's very lucky, they may even get to hear another rendition of whatever the hell this was: 

It'll be like the last time Trump took over the Mavs and Stars home, except, you know, with the specter of the republic's third-ever impeachment hanging over everyone's heads.

Outside, there will be protests from everyone from voting vapers to Beto O'Rourke, trying to scoop up attention from the hordes of media members and the public who follow the president wherever he goes.

The show isn't for those who actually live in Dallas County, which is about 2-1 Democrat at this point; it's for those who live in the many blood-red spaces that are still within driving distance. They'll be here, combining with the president to tie up traffic in and around downtown right at rush hour, all so Trump can campaign in a state that's only competitive because of his relative unpopularity. 

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