Uvalde votes for Texas governor after mass shootings are big focus of Abbott, O’Rourke race | Media Pyro


AUSTIN — Voters in Uvalde County are preparing to either re-elect Gov. Greg Abbott or cast ballots for Beto O’Rourke, months after the deadliest school shooting in Texas history.

Polls close at 7 p.m. During early voting, more than 5,100 Uvalde residents turned out to vote as the county and May’s mass shooting at Robb Elementary School became a focus of the gubernatorial race.

Final numbers show that early voting in Texas is down significantly from the 2018 midterm elections

Abbott has carried Uvalde in his previous elections. In 2018, he defeated Uvalde by 1,700 votes over Democrat Lupe Valdez. In his first run for governor in 2014, Abbott defeated Sen. Wendy Davis by 800 votes.

Uvalde has been reliably red in the past several gubernatorial elections, and it’s unclear the last time Uvalde supported a Democrat for governor. The Texas Secretary of State’s website goes back to 1992 and shows GOP candidates for governor have carried Uvalde in 30 years and seven gubernatorial elections.

But O’Rourke has made the mass shooting – the sixth of Abbott’s tenure – one of the central issues of his campaign. A day after the May 24 shooting, O’Rourke interrupted an Abbott press conference at Uvalde High School and shouted, “It’s yours.”

In the weeks after Uvalde, gun control advocates pressured Abbott to take action to stop mass shootings. Uvalde’s attorneys blamed him for not calling a special session after the shooting and saying he could not raise the minimum age to purchase a firearm from 18 to 21 because it had not survived legal challenges and violated the Second Amendment.

Families of Uvalde victims have called for Texas DPS Director Steve McCraw to be fired.

Abbott was criticized for not canceling a campaign fundraiser in Huntsville the day of the shooting and instead spending three hours at a private home in East Texas. Abbott initially said the stop was brief and that he couldn’t stay to let people know. But campaign finance reports and flight tracking data revealed he spent about three hours in the city.

In addition, Abbott was heavily criticized for inaccurate statements immediately after the shooting, where he praised the police response and said law enforcement officers at the scene responded heroically. In fact, more than 400 officers, including 91 from the Texas Department of Public Safety, responded to the scene but waited more than an hour to confront and kill the gunman.

DPS Director Steve McGraw defended how his agency responded to the shooting, despite calling the law enforcement response an “abject failure.” Body camera footage and numerous media reports showed DPS had a larger role in the elementary school than previously known.

McGraw blamed former Uvalde School District Police Chief Pete Arredondo, who was fired in August and became the first officer to lose his job following the shooting. At least seven DPS officers are under official investigation by the agency. Juan Maldonado, the highest-ranking officer who first responded to the school, was fired in October, according to the Texas Tribune.

Late last month, several families of the slain children confronted McGraw and demanded his resignation. Abbott appoints four members of the Public Safety Commission, which oversees McGraw and DPS. The governor has not yet said whether McGraw has been asked to lose his job.


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