Axios Austin

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β˜‘οΈ Happy Super Tuesday. Don't forget to vote.

😐 Today's weather: Partly sunny, with a high near 90.

πŸŽ‚ Happy birthday to our Axios Austin members Steve Krant and Rick Cofer!

πŸ—³ Situational awareness: Keep track of election night with Axios' live coverage of national and local Super Tuesday races, beginning at 2pm on our website.

Today's newsletter is 812 words β€” a 3-minute read.

1 big thing: Texas GOP's primary revenge tour

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

In today's Texas primaries, the GOP is going after its own β€” a microcosm of the infighting across the Republican Party in the age of Trump.

Why it matters: Primaries are traditionally when incumbents work to protect their colleagues, but this year has become an intra-party revenge tour for Gov. Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton.

Zoom in: Abbott spent more than $6 million between late January and late February against Texas House Republicans who defied him on school vouchers.

"This is a war," said Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan last month, per the Houston Chronicle. He supported the Paxton impeachment and allowed his members to torpedo Abbott's voucher proposal.

  • Paxton has campaigned for Phelan's opponent, and Abbott has declined to back his fellow Republican state leader.
  • "This is the nastiest, most negative campaign I've seen in Texas legislative history," Phelan added. "They're going to lose on March 5, and they're going to regret every damn dime they spent."

What they're saying: "Infighting is common in a state like Texas with one-party domination," Brandon Rottinghaus, a University of Houston political science professor, tells Axios.

  • "But in the past the divide among Texas Republicans was about policy. At present it's about personality, and that's Trump-driven."

The bottom line: These races have made many incumbents miserable.

  • "It's not fun having statewide elected officials disparage your character," state Rep. DeWayne Burns, a Cleburne Republican who voted against Abbott's school choice bill, said at a campaign event in February.
  • "But I tell you what, you got to stand up for what you believe in and I'd do it again knowing all of that, every bit of that."

2. It's election day

Texas presidential campaign contributions from large donors
Data: Federal Election Commission; Note: Individual contributions of less than $200 are not required to be reported to the FEC; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

Texas voters will cast their ballots in the primary election today, when former President Donald Trump and President Joe Biden are expected to easily win their primary races.

What's happening: Trump's campaign has raised nearly $8 million in Texas from large donors, with GOP presidential candidate Nikki Haley trailing at $5 million.

Zoom in: Despite its being a presidential election year, voter turnout is expected to remain low.

  • A little more than 8.5% of Travis County's registered voters have cast a ballot, according to the Travis County Clerk's unofficial early voting totals.
  • That number includes about 45,000 Democratic voters and 24,000 Republican voters. Roughly 7,000 people voted by mail.

What's next: Travis County voters can cast a ballot at any polling location from 7am-7pm.

Dig deeper: What's on the ballot in the Austin area

3. 🀠 The Roundup: Wrangling the news

Oysters and tartare from Hestia Bar, a new upscale bar concept set to open later this month. Photo: Courtesy of Mars Tello/Hestia Bar

🍽️ Tapas bar Kalimotxo will relocate to ARRIVE Austin hotel later this year. Upscale bar concept Hestia Bar will take over its space beginning March 21. (Eater)

πŸ₯‡ The University of Texas now has the No. 1 ranked softball team in the country. (Austin American-Statesman)

πŸš’ People who lost their homes in a Feb. 1 apartment fire say they did not hear smoke alarms ringing to alert them about the fire. (KXAN)

πŸ¦‹ Monarch butterfly researchers are urging Texans to track and report sightings as they migrate in the next week or so. (KUT)

4. It's not just Dry January

Data: NIQ; Chart: Axios Visuals

For many, the "damp" or "dry" lifestyle has gone beyond January.

Why it matters: This year, huge interest in the annual booze-free challenge Dry January marked a change in the way American adults think about alcohol.

By the numbers: Although alcoholic beer sales are fairly flat, non-alcoholic beer sales are on the rise in the U.S., according to NIQ, which tracks buying behavior.

The intrigue: Non-alcoholic beer sales in Austin in January jumped by more than five times between 2020 and 2024, per data from NIQ.

Yes, but: Sophisticated zero-proof beverages can actually be more costly than alcoholic drinks.

  • For example, some alcohol-free wine involves the same grape fermentation process as traditional wine, plus an additional process: dealcoholization.
  • Austin-based Surely, a non-alcoholic wine company, sells bottles starting around $26.

Go deeper: The best non-alcoholic beers

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  1. Head of Performance Marketing at FloSports.
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5. πŸ“Έ 1 Texas primary photo to go

Laura Bush, wife of then-Republican presidential hopeful and Texas Gov. George W. Bush, votes semi-privately in the Texas primary in March 2000. Photo: Paul J. Richards/AFP via Getty Images

In this 2000 image, photojournalists in Austin jockey to snap pictures of Laura Bush as she casts a primary vote for (presumably) her husband.

Why it matters: George W. Bush won the Super Tuesday over Republican challenger John McCain by a large margin, assuring his Republican nomination.

Thanks to Chloe Gonzales for editing and Kate Sommers-Dawes and Yasmeen Altaji for copy editing this newsletter.

πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ Asher recommends this Curtis Sittenfeld novel, loosely based on the life of Laura Bush.

🐟 Nicole is reading this Texas Tribune project on how a small fraction of Texans decide who runs the state.