As far as falls from grace in Texas politics go, state Rep. Rick Miller’s was about as fast as they come.
On Monday night, the Sugar Land Republican was quoted in a story published by The Houston Chronicle saying his two primary challengers likely joined the race because they are Asian in a district with a considerable Asian population.
“And that’s kind of racist in my mind,” he told the newspaper.
Gov. Greg Abbott yanked his endorsement of Miller the following morning. A rebuke from the Fort Bend County GOP chair followed. By 5 p.m. Tuesday, Miller had announced he would not seek reelection to his House seat and apologized for his “insensitive and inexcusable” comments.
The drama that unfolded — and its remarkably rapid conclusion — served as the latest reminder that seats in one of the country’s most ethnically diverse counties are some of the most competitive in the state heading into the 2020 election cycle, and that neither of the two major parties are taking the area for granted.
The events also reiterated the challenge that the Texas GOP has acknowledged 2020 has thrust upon its ranks: How can it connect with voters of color in suburban parts of the state?
“I think it surprised everyone — things did happen very quickly,” Fort Bend County GOP Chair Linda Howell told The Texas Tribune on Wednesday. “I think people thought they needed to deal with it quickly. It’s such a critical time in our state that it’s important to deal with the issues and that the facts are out there.”