Aug 13, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Texas companies: Culture wars bad for business

Illustration of the Texas state flag forming a line pointing down.

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) is pushing his conservative agenda in hopes of riling up the state's Republican base ahead of the 2022 gubernatorial election, but major corporations are not having it.

What's happening: Companies with large footprints in the Lone Star State like Dell Technologies, American Airlines Apple, and IBM have a history of publicly criticizing Abbott's policies, including on voting rights and transgender issues.

  • Now opposition to his anti-mask executive order is increasing and Abbott has called a special legislative session to tackle (among other things like voting restrictions) bans on vaccine and face-mask requirements in schools.
  • “This is a very high-risk, high-reward strategy that he is pursuing, and other national Republican leaders as well, where they simply don’t believe the Covid crisis is going to cause the amount of deaths that many health professionals are suggesting that it might," James Riddlesperger, a political-science professor at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth told the New York Times.

Abbott has long considered a pro-business Republican. He is being squeezed by his desire to boost economic development while fending off "ultra-conservative challengers in the Republican primary vote" next year, Bloomberg writes.

  • Notably, more liberal Texas transplants moving to the state could have an impact in the next election, Bloomberg notes.

The big picture: Abbott has hit back at companies criticizing his policies, telling Fox News that they "need to stay out of politics, especially when they have no clue what they’re talking about."

By the numbers: Abbott's popularity has been declining since 2020, according to a recent poll from the University of Texas at Austin, receiving only a 44% job approval in June, compared to his record high of 56% in April 2020.

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