In Texas, Top Two Republicans Steer Ship of State Hard to the Right

One is a former State Supreme Court justice who acts with a lawyer’s caution; the other a Trumpist firebrand who began his political career in the world of conservative talk radio. They have sparred at times, most recently this winter over the deadly failure of their state’s electrical grid.

But together, Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, the two most powerful men in Texas, are the driving force behind one of the hardest right turns in recent state history.

The two Republicans stand united at a pivotal moment in Texas politics, opposing Democrats who have left the state for Washington in protest of the G.O.P.-controlled Legislature’s attempt to overhaul the state’s election system — blocking Republicans from advancing any bills to Mr. Abbott’s desk. Any policy differences between the governor and lieutenant governor have melted away in the face of the realities of today’s Republican Party, with a base devoted to former President Donald J. Trump and insistent on an uncompromising conservative agenda.

“The lieutenant governor reads off the playbook of the far right, and that’s where we go,” said State Senator Kel Seliger, a moderate Republican from Amarillo. “The governor less so, but not much less so.”

Now, if Mr. Abbott and Mr. Patrick hope to sustain momentum for Texas Republicans — and if the ambitious two men hope to strengthen their career prospects — they must navigate a political and public relations battle over voting rights involving an angry base, restive Republican lawmakers and a largely absent yet outspoken Democratic delegation.

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