Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed the nation’s most radical abortion ban, a far-reaching voter suppression law, and legislation that allows Texans to carry handguns without a permit or training. He responded to a surge in COVID-19 delta variant cases by blocking local vaccine and mask mandates, and he mobilized state police and national guard troops to “seal” the border with Mexico. But none of that is enough for some Trump-loving Republicans. Former Trump campaign lawyer Jenna Ellis recently declared on her radio show that Abbott is “not a real Republican” while endorsing Abbott challenger Don Huffines in the state’s Republican primary.
Ellis endorsed Huffines in a video released last Thursday and interviewed the far-right candidate on the Sept. 15 edition of the “Jenna Ellis Show,” where she declared Abbott to be a “Republican in name only” while describing Huffines as a “true, actual Republican.” Ellis also attended a Sept. 15 brunch event hosted by Huffines’ wife.
Ellis reminded listeners that she is “not a fan” of the Republican National Committee or “any of the RINOs,” adding, “And we as conservatives, as faith-based Christians, as people who just care about this country, we need to make sure that we are advocating for, supporting, endorsing the true actual Republicans.” Ellis and Huffines criticized Abbott for not taking more aggressive action on the border sooner, and Ellis claimed, not very credibly, that “it has really also concerned me to see the LGBT movement that has basically been broadly endorsed by Abbott.”
Despite being turned out of office by voters in 2018, Huffines, a wealthy Dallas-area developer and former state senator, announced his candidacy for governor in May. Huffines’ campaign website is a parade of far-right rhetoric on “election integrity,” “critical race theory,” “social media censorship,” and more. In a section labeled “Texas Values,” Huffines declares:
We will stop bowing down to the federal courts. This is Texas. We don’t care what John Roberts thinks. He and other sellouts on the Supreme Court have proven that they cannot be trusted to protect our liberty or state sovereignty.
“The Marxists and the socialists have taken over our education system, our seminaries, our politics, and our media, of course,” Huffines said, adding that “the real fundamental role of government is to protect the citizens from government.” He told Ellis, “We’ve got to awaken the sheep.”
Huffines told Ellis that the flow of migrants across the U.S.-Mexico border is “a premeditated attack on Texas by the Biden administration.”
“The power of the governor is almost unlimited if you’re willing to use it for our Constitution,” Huffines told Ellis, pledging to stop all inbound commercial traffic from Mexico until that country secures its side of the border.
Ellis asked Huffines to talk about the importance of pastors and churches being involved in politics. “If we can get everyone out of the pews and vote their faith, we will never lose an election,” Huffines said, adding that “this is a battle of good versus evil.” He claimed that Democrats want to bring tyranny to the U.S. “today” and that “RINO Republicans” are headed in the same direction.
Huffines’ website pledges that he will “reject any attempts to mandate, force, or coerce any medical test, procedure, or product, including vaccines or masks, on Texans,” calling it an “insult” to even suggest that vaccines be made mandatory. He said Abbott’s initial COVID-19 shutdowns were an assault on liberty and a “catalyst” for Huffines getting into the race.
Huffines spoke at the American Conservative Union’s July 2021 Conservative Political Action Conference in Dallas, where he made similar claims and said that “almost all” Republicans who call themselves conservatives are “liars.”
Ellis is far from the only Trump-loving wing of the GOP to support Huffines. Another former Trump staffer, Katrina Pierson, is backing Huffines, who has also been endorsed by Sen. Rand Paul, with whom he traveled on a “private” trip to meet with Russian officials in 2018. Huffines may have to compete for support from the Trumpist wing of the party with the former Texas GOP chair, Allen West, who also announced his candidacy for Texas governor this July.