County Republican parties in Texas’ GOP strongholds say Gov. Greg Abbott going too far in coronavirus response

A growing number of Texas county Republican parties are censuring Gov. Greg Abbott over his response to the coronavirus pandemic, taking issue with how he has wielded his broad executive power.

Censure resolutions, which are formal condemnations of an official's statements or behavior, have been approved in at least six counties. That includes two of the biggest red counties in Texas: Montgomery and Denton, which easily passed a resolution Thursday night.

Some Republicans aligned with the grassroots wing of the party have expressed frustration with Abbott in recent weeks as the pandemic has intensified in Texas — and Abbott has continued to assert executive authority to take sweeping actions to contain it. The censure resolutions accuse Abbott of violating core principles of the party such as separation of powers, free enterprise and personal responsibility.

A spokesperson for Abbott did not respond to messages seeking comment, though Abbott has generally defended the statewide mask mandate that he issued last week — and that seemed to be a breaking point for some in his party.

"I knew that it wasn’t going to be popular," Abbott said during an interview Thursday evening with KTEN in Sherman. "I knew that it was even counter to what even I wanted, but also I knew that it was something that had to be done. The coronavirus is spreading so rapidly across the state of Texas, the last thing that we want to do is shut Texas back down. The only way we can prevent Texas from being shut down is for everybody to adopt this practice of wearing a face mask."

On Thursday evening, a Hood County GOP official told The Texas Tribune that a resolution censuring the governor was approved unanimously, 13-0. The Denton County resolution was approved later Thursday evening along a 40-10 vote, with one abstention, according to two precinct chairs there.

The movement began over the weekend with Ector County, home to Odessa. Parties in Harrison and Llano counties have also since voted to censure Abbott.

Over the past two weeks, as the number of coronavirus cases surged in Texas, Abbott has ordered bars to shut down again and issued a directive for Texans in most counties to wear masks in public.