From the way Gov. Abbott talked about Austin Monday night, you might think he doesn’t like it here.
“As I was coming up here from Austin, Texas, tonight, I got to tell you, it’s great to be out of the People’s Republic of Austin,” Abbott told the Bell County Republican Party Dinner at the Bell County Expo Center, just under 60 miles up the road from Austin in Belton.
“As you leave Austin and start heading north, you start feeling different,” Abbott told the appreciative audience. “Once you cross the Travis County line, it starts smelling different. And you know what that fragrance is? Freedom. It’s the smell of freedom that does not exist in Austin, Texas.”
“That said, with your senators and legislators, I can tell you that today, Austin is more free than it was before the legislative session began because the state of Texas passed laws that overrode the liberal agenda of Austin, Texas, that is trying to send Texas down the pathway of California,” Abbott said.
On Memorial Day, the governor, in what he called a “celebration of freedom and free enterprise,” signed legislation taking ride-hailing regulation statewide and overriding the Austin ordinance that led Uber and Lyft to shut down operations in Austin.
“As your governor, I will not allow Austin, Texas, to Californiaize the Lone Star State,” Abbott said.
The governor also referred to Austin, and Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez, as the seedbed of sanctuary city policies that will be banned under a new law that was among his priority items.
“We worked on ensuring that we kept every person in the state safe, every man, woman and child, and that meant we had to confront a problem that began festering in Austin, Texas, and began to spread across the state,” Abbott said. “It meant that we had to pass a ban on sanctuary city policies.”
“This will stop officials like Sanctuary Sally in Travis County, Texas, who was releasing dangerous criminals out of jail, back out on the street,” Abbott said. “People who have committed crimes like rape. My view is if you don’t want to enforce the law, you shouldn’t be involved in law enforcement.”
It was not the first time that Abbott referred to Hernandez by the alliteratively disparaging nickname, “Sanctuary Sally,” which appears to have originated with Joe Martinez, her Republican opponent for sheriff in the 2016 election, who used the term in reply to a question from the Statesman editorial board in October.
In March, Senator Paul Bettencourt, R-Houston, called Hernandez “Sanctuary Sally,” in an interview with The Chad Hasty Show.
And, the conservative news outlet, Breitbart, routinely refers to the sheriff in its news coverage as “Travis County Sheriff ‘Sanctuary Sally’ Hernandez.”
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