Axios San Antonio

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🌺 We hope you have a great Tuesday morning.

Today's weather: Sunny and windy, high near 82.

πŸ˜‹ Tastes like: Gooey butter cake

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Today's newsletter is 821 words β€” a 3-minute read.

1 big thing: The race for a Texas border district

Photo illustration: Axios Visuals. Photos: San Antonio Express-News/Hearst Newspapers, Anna Moneymaker via Getty Images

The GOP primary runoff to represent a Texas border district β€” which includes Uvalde β€” has evolved into a fight over gun and immigration politics.

Why it matters: The TX-23 race between incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Tony Gonzales and Brandon Herrera, a pro-gun rights social media influencer, is a microcosm of the conservative pressures dominating Texas GOP politics today.

  • "I think this is the story of Texas politics in a lot of ways," Joshua Blank, research director of the Texas Politics Project, tells Axios.

Flashback: Following the 2022 mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Gonzales bucked his party to support a bipartisan gun safety bill that would have tightened background checks for people under age 21, among other measures.

Yes, but: The Texas Republican Party voted to censure him in response.

  • In turn, Gonzales attracted several primary challengers this year.
  • He received about 45% of the March primary vote, short of the 50% threshold required to avoid a runoff.

The other side: Herrera, who secured about 25% of the primary vote, is a self-described social media personality and "Second Amendment activist."

What they're saying: By voting to support bipartisan gun regulation, Gonzales "created the opening for a primary challenger and the fuel for a runoff election," Blank says.

  • "That is all the warning gun rights advocates need to keep other elected officials in line."

Reality check: While gun politics are prominent in the runoff, border security remains the top issue for Republicans this year, Blank says.

  • That's especially true in the 23rd District, which covers hundreds of miles of the Texas-Mexico border, from the outskirts of San Antonio to outside of El Paso.

Campaigns for Gonzales and Herrera did not respond to Axios' interview requests.

Go deeper

2. Prison population's growth

Data: Bureau of Justice Statistics; Map: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

Texas' prison population grew 4.4% between 2021 and 2022, Axios' Alex Fitzpatrick and Kavya Beheraj report from the latest Justice Department data.

  • Meanwhile, it fell nearly 20% between the peak year of 2010 and 2022.

Why it matters: Prison numbers are an indicator of how our society approaches criminal justice.

By the numbers: 139,631 people were in state or federal prisons in Texas in 2022, per the DOJ's data, compared to 173,649 in the peak year of 2010.

The big picture: The U.S. prison population rose 2.1% between 2021 and 2022, marking "the first increase in the combined state and federal prison population in almost a decade," a recent DOJ report found.

Of note: As of Dec. 31, 2022, about 32% of the nationwide prison population was Black β€” more than double Black Americans' 13.6% share of the overall U.S. population.

Reality check: The U.S. prison population remains extremely high compared to the years before the Nixon-era "war on drugs" and "tough on crime" politics took hold.

3. Inside the Loop

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

πŸ€’ A person in Texas is being treated for bird flu after exposure to dairy cattle presumed to be infected with the virus, health officials said yesterday. (Axios)

πŸ—οΈ A crane fell on a moving vehicle on I-35 in Southwest Bexar County yesterday, sending three people to the hospital with minor injuries. (KSAT)

🎢 The new River North Icehouse will open this spring with food, a full bar and live music in the north downtown area. (SA Current)

😞 The Jim's Restaurant at Hildebrand and San Pedro avenues will close June 25, following the closure of the Broadway Jim's location. (MySA)

4. 🧈 πŸŽ‚ Testing Blue Bell's new flavor

Gooey Butter is goodness. Photo: Gregory Castillo/Axios

Our new Axios Texas social host Greg wanted to test if Blue Bell's new, limited-edition Gooey Butter Cake flavor lives up to the hype.

Greg's thoughts: It's the ultimate birthday cake ice cream flavor. Big chunks of butter cake and a rich cream cheese swirl create a velvety texture.

  • This flavor reminds me of Cold Stone or Marble Slab Creamery.

Megan's thoughts: I grew up in the St. Louis area, where gooey butter cake originates, and I can bake a pretty good version myself β€” so I was pretty excited to try this new flavor.

  • But I was admittedly let down. The ice cream is good, but it tastes like a variation on a birthday cake flavor, not like the real gooey butter cake itself.

Go deeper: Check out Axios Texas on Instagram for a full review from Greg.

Sponsored job listings

New jobs to check out

πŸ’Ό See who's hiring around the city.

  1. IT Director at Robert Half.
  2. IT Director - Mortgage at Latitude.
  3. Director, Infrastructure at Sirva.

Want more opportunities? Check out our Job Board.

Hiring? Use code FIRST50 for $50 off your first job post.

5. πŸ“Έ S.A. snapshots: Wildflower season

What a yard. Photo: Megan Stringer/Axios

πŸ‘‹ Megan here. If you haven't been able to tell yet, I love wildflower season in Texas.

Seen above: The front yard at Beethoven MΓ€nnerchor in Southtown last weekend, full of beautiful blooms (including some bluebonnets).

  • All bathed in golden hour light, the wildflowers make an evening stroll that much better this time of year.
A close-up of the bountiful garden with a view of more bluebonnets, pink poppies and more.
A close-up of the beautiful blooms. Photo: Megan Stringer/Axios

Thanks to our editors Chloe Gonzales and Emma Hurt and copy editors Steven Patrick and Yasmeen Altaji.

🀞 Madalyn is crossing her fingers for clear skies on eclipse day, despite the womp, womp, womp of the current forecast.

🌼 Megan is happy she also saw bountiful blooms at Wildseed Farms in Fredericksburg last weekend.