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Former President George W. Bush says Matthew McConaughey could have a shot at being Texas’s next governor, if he has “the principles” to tune out his critics.

“I don’t know, he seems to be a charming guy,” Bush said with a laugh, when asked if the “True Detective” star would make a good governor of the Lone Star State in a Thursday interview on “The Hugh Hewitt Show.”

The 51-year-old performer has been floating a potential gubernatorial run while promoting his memoir, “Greenlights.” McConaughey said in an interview last month that a bid is a “true consideration.” A poll published last week found that more Texas voters would back McConaughey over Gov. Greg Abbott (R), who’s up for reelection next year.

“I met him one time,” Bush, himself a former Texas governor, told Hewitt of McConaughey. “I’ll tell you one thing: He’s charismatic. Now whether or not he can put up with all the noise, all the rubber chicken circus, you know all the stuff that goes on,” the 43rd president added.

“The criticism can be pretty harsh, Hugh, and the question would be does he have a set of principles firm enough to not worry about what the critics say?” Bush said.

The ex-commander in chief recalled a conversation with former Texas Rangers pitcher Nolan Ryan, who he referred to as his friend. Ryan, Bush recounted, told him he was considering running for Texas’s agricultural commissioner.

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“I said, ‘Nolan, do you like it when the sports columnists criticize you?'” Bush said.

“He said, ‘I don’t like it,'” Bush continued.

“I said, ‘Well then you’re not going to like running for agricultural commissioner.'”

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McCarthy officially endorses Stefanik over Cheney in GOP House vote

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Republican House leader Kevin McCarthy for the first time on Sunday officially endorsed Rep. Elise Stefanik to replace Rep. Liz Cheney in her leadership post, saying Republicans need a unified conference to battle the Biden administration’s agenda.

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Texas Senate approves bill allowing people to carry handguns without license

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The Texas State Senate has voted to advance a bill that will allow people to carry handguns in the state without a license, setting up the state the be the largest in the country to allow permitless carry.

The legislation passed by an 18-13 margin along party lines Wednesday evening. The bill would allow people 21 and older who can already legally own a gun to carry a handgun in public without the license, safety course and background check current law requires.

The bill now heads to the House, which passed similar legislation earlier this year but will not consider changes the Senate made to the bill before sending it to Gov. Greg Abbott’s (R) desk.

The Senate passage of the legislation marks a significant victory for gun rights activists and Republicans, who had seen permitless carry legislation go nowhere in previous legislative sessions.

“HB 1927 would recognize the United States Constitution as our permit to carry and allow all law-abiding adults, aged 21 years or older, to carry a handgun for the protection of themselves or their families, in public places, in a holster, without the requirement of a state-issued license,” said State Sen. Charles Schwertner (R), a sponsor of the bill.

“People who are prohibited from possessing a handgun will still be prohibited from possessing a handgun under this bill,” he added. “Nothing in this bill regarding possession is changed.” 

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R) also hailed the passage of the bill, touting it as evidence of Texas’s strong support of the Second Amendment.

“I am proud that the Texas Senate passed House Bill 1927 today, the Constitutional Carry bill, which affirms every Texan’s right to self-defense and our state’s strong support for our Second Amendment right to bear arms. In the Lone Star State, the Constitution is our permit to carry,” he said in a statement. “We have moved quickly on this legislation and I want to thank all those involved who helped gather the votes needed to pass this historic bill.”  

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Democrats panned the bill as dangerous, warning that criminals would slip through the cracks and end up carrying guns if they do not have to go through the licensing process. The Department of Public Safety denied 2,422 license to carry applicants last year, with the majority of denials stemming from past criminal convictions. 

“More criminals are going to walk around with guns openly, I promise you,” state Sen. Roland Gutierrez (R) said during floor debate, according to The Dallas Morning News. “More vigilantes are going to rise up.” 
Twenty other states allow some form of permitless carry.


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DeSantis signs GOP-drafted voting bill, legal fight begins

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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a sweeping elections bill into law Thursday that he and other Republicans said would place guardrails against fraud, even as they acknowledged there were no serious signs of voting irregularities last November. Democrats and voter rights advocates said the partisan move will make it harder for some voters to cast ballots.

The Republican governor signed the freshly passed legislation ahead of his impending announcement that he’ll run for reelection in the nation’s largest battleground state. He staged the signing on a live broadcast of Fox & Friends Thursday morning, flanked by a small group of GOP legislators in Palm Beach County. Other media organizations were shut out of the event.

DeSantis said the new law puts Florida ahead of the curve in preventing any potential fraud.

“Right now I have what we think is the strongest election integrity measures in the country,” the governor said as he signed it. “We’re also banning ballot harvesting. We’re not going to let political operatives go and get satchels of votes and dump them in some drop box.”

Republicans have previously said they know of know such problems in Florida, and elections supervisors across the state did not ask for any of the changes, warning that some of the new rules may prove cumbersome and expensive to implement.

Groups including the NAACP and Common Cause said they would immediately file a lawsuit in federal court alleging that the new law makes it more difficult for people who are Black, Latino or disabled to vote.

“For far too long, Florida’s lawmakers and elected officials have created a vast array of hurdles that have made it more difficult for these and other voters to make their voices heard,” the groups said in their lawsuit, which they planned to file in U.S. District Court in Tallahassee, the state capital.

While Georgia has become the current epicenter of the national battle over elections laws, other states — led by Republicans still unsettled by then-President Donald Trump’s loss in November — have moved to rewrite elections laws. The national campaign to do so is motivated by Trump’s unfounded allegations that irregularities in the election process, particularly in Pennsylvania, Georgia and Arizona, led to his loss — a baseless claim that inspired the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

The Georgia law requires a photo ID in order to vote absentee by mail, after more than 1.3 million Georgia voters used that option during the COVID-19 pandemic. It also cuts the time people have to request an absentee ballot and limits where ballot drop boxes can be placed and when they can be accessed.

Some of the changes in Florida’s election rules contain similar provisions. Democrats acknowledge that the Florida law won’t be as draconian as the one recently adopted by its neighbor to the north.

The GOP-controlled Florida Legislature passed the law without a single Democratic vote, even as Florida Republicans have hailed their state as a model for conducting elections. This disconnect has confounded Democrats, voter rights groups and statewide elections officials who see no need for the changes.

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But Republicans countered that the new law is a preemptive move against those who would undermine the sanctity of the ballot box, even if they could not cite specific instances of widespread fraud. Republicans argue that the new rules do nothing to keep people from voting.

The newly signed law restricts when ballot drop boxes can be used and who can collect ballots — and how many. To protect against so called “ballot harvesting,” an electoral Good Samaritan can only collect and return the ballots of immediate family and no more than two from unrelated people. Under the new rules, drop boxes must be supervised and would only be available when elections offices and early voting sites are open.

It requires that a voter making changes to registration data provide an identifying number, possibly a driver’s license number or a partial Social Security Number.

The governor’s signature extends a no-influence zone to 150 feet (50 meters) around polling places. And elections officials would have to let candidates and other observers witness some key election night moments in the ballot-handling process. Any violations could prompt hefty fines.

DeSantis had pushed Republican lawmakers to deliver the sweeping rewrites of rules on voting by mail and drop boxes, and to impose new layers of ID requirements for routine changes to a voter’s registration record.

However, the proposals signed into law did not include some of the more severe provisions initially put forward by some Republicans, including the outright banning of drop boxes and preventing the use of the U.S. Postal Service for returning completed ballots.

Spurred by concerns that the pandemic would keep voters from voting on Election Day last year, the Democratic Party urged people to vote early and through the mail.

The result: Florida Democrats outvoted Republicans by mail for the first time in years as a record 4.9 million Floridians voted by mail. Democrats cast 680,000 more mail ballots than Republicans did.

In the past, an application for a vote-by-mail ballot covered two general election cycles. The new law requires voters who want an absentee ballot to apply for one every cycle. Republicans had initially proposed making this retroactive, which would have immediately erased the Democratic advantage, but they backed off that move in the final version.

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