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Willie Nelson and Beto O'Rourke in concert in Austin, Texas, in 2018. Photo: Gary Miller/Getty Images for ABA

Country music singer Willie Nelson and former U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke are fund-raising for a group of Texas Democrats threatened with arrest by Gov. Greg Abbott (R) after fleeing the state to block GOP-led voting restrictions.

Why it matters: O'Rourke created a buzz when he ran as a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, and now he's using his platform to raise money for the Texas House Democrats.

By the numbers: By Wednesday afternoon, a fund-raising site for the 57 lawmakers had "raised $526,780 from 14,654 donors, for an average of $36 per donation," according to the Dallas Morning News.

  • O'Rourke thanked Nelson and wife Annie Nelson in a statement on Tuesday for "generously matching the next $5K in donations to support Texas Democrats in their fight for voting rights."

The big picture: The Texas Democrats fled to Washington, D.C., on Monday night. They have said they'll stay away for as long as necessary to block the Republican voting bill from passing.

  • That would require the group to remain out of state for at least the remainder of the special session.
  • The NAACP has said it will offer to pay the Democrats' bail if they're arrested upon their return to Texas.

Go deeper

Biden signals openness to ending filibuster for voting rights legislation

President Biden participates in a CNN town hall at Baltimore Center Stage in Baltimore, Maryland on Oct. 21, 2021. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden said Thursday at a CNN town hall he'd be willing to consider doing away with the filibuster in the Senate in a bid to protect voting rights and "and maybe more."

Why it matters: With an evenly split Senate, legislation requires at least 10 Republican votes making it highly unlikely any new voting rights bill would pass with the filibuster in tact.

North Texas begins redistricting process

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Statewide lines may have already been redrawn, but North Texas’ redistricting process is just getting started.

  • Texas representatives approved new maps for Congress and the state Legislature, but the redistricting decisions already face legal challenges as many groups claim the new districts exclude minorities.
Bryan Walsh, author of Future
2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Axios AM Deep Dive: America’s murder surge

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Erik McGregor/LightRocket via Getty Images

Homicides rose at the fastest rate in at least six decades last year. This Axios AM Deep Dive, led by Future correspondent Bryan Walsh, looks at the state of gun crime.

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