This week, Inside Texas Politics, begins with the unfolding situation in Ukraine.
U.S. Rep. Colin Allred, a Democratic Texas congressman from Dallas and a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, was there just weeks ago visiting with a bi-partisan delegation. He said Texans should keep an eye on this situation, because it is likely to have direct effects on their wallets.
“We may see higher energy costs come out of this, and we may see some of our supply chains either interrupted, or parts of it becoming more expensive because we’re trying to hit those parts of the Russian economy,” Allred said on Inside Texas Politics.
Mind the gap
Some new polling from the University of Texas shows that what voters are worried about is not necessarily what candidates are talking about.
For example: Democrats are talking up the electric grid, but only 5% of Texas voters said that is a top priority. And most Texans – 62% of them – oppose efforts to remove books from school libraries, but conservative candidates still love to discuss that.
How did voters and campaigns get so far apart? And does any of it matter on March 1?
The Texas Tribune's Ross Ramsey said it's likely because at this stage of the game, parties are talking mostly to their bases – and not all voters – to get them fired up for the primary.
Impact of rejected mail-in ballots
The final week of early voting is starting, and mail-in ballots are still being rejected. This could decide some local races that come down to hundreds or dozens of votes.
"There are a lot of prognosticators saying that turnout in this election is going to be low, which means that every vote counts a bit more, and if votes are getting knocked off ... it could hurt some candidates," Ramsey said.
Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg
President Joe Biden's infrastructure law will soon start changing the landscape of Texas highways. Electric charging stations will begin popping up every 50 miles or so. And this is coming – even if Texas rejects federal money.
This is one of the things that we learned from U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, who spoke with Inside Texas Politics.
“In the unlikely event that the state chooses not to submit a plan, we’re not going to allow Texans to be punished for that,” he said. “The money, according to the infrastructure law, basically rolls over so that individual communities can go ahead and apply for it.”
The whole point of adding all these electric charging stations to Texas highways is to get more people to buy electric vehicles, which, in turn, would reduce emissions.
But before this project gets too far down the road, Republican Tarrant County Commissioner Gary Fickes said state lawmakers must finally make a change to state law – something that they have been reluctant to do.
Texas hasn’t even raised its gas tax in nearly 30 years. At a minimum, Fickes said the state must figure out a form of payment for electric vehicles.
Race for Lieutenant Governor
Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick holds a commanding lead in the March primary since he doesn't have a high-profile challenger, but he is campaigning hard with ads and going after professors at the University of Texas. Why? Is this anything more than primary election talk?
"He's proving he's the bull in the china shop in Texas politics, and he's going to go upset everybody, whether it's Democrats at UT or Republicans who don't do things his way in the party," explained Bud Kennedy with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
Candidates struggle to raise visibility
Down-ballot candidates are having trouble getting attention this year. One of the Railroad Commission candidates even took to TikTok.
"People are getting attention any way they can," Kennedy said.
Kennedy said they're only been about 4% turnout through the weekend, meaning "we're on track for one of those10% primaries where nine out of 10 Texans don't vote."
Watch the full episode of Inside Texas Politics below: