TEXAS — As millions of Texans endure their third day without heat and electricity during the state’s worst winter storm in several decades, Sen. Ted Cruz is showing a rare moment of humility as he walks back snarky comments made last August about rolling blackouts in California.
The summer tweet from Cruz, a Republican widely expected to make another run for the White House in 2024, resurfaced this week during Texas’ power outage crisis and drew immediate criticism on social media, where many called his statement hypocrisy, given the Lone Star State’s current state of emergency.
At the time of Cruz’s schadenfreude-laced comments in August 2020, California was being asked to conserve energy during an extreme heatwave in the state. Cruz tweeted that the state was "unable to perform even basic functions of civilization, like having reliable electricity."
Cruz’s tweet took a shot at then-presidential candidate Joe Biden and his running mate, Kamala Harris, as well as New York Democrat Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, saying, “Biden/Harris/AOC want to make CA's failed energy policy the standard nationwide. Hope you don't like air conditioning!"
That tweet, in particular, seemed to come back to haunt Cruz this week. In a tweet Tuesday afternoon, Cruz took what seemed to be a sincere apologetic tone for his August comments, saying, “I’ve got no defense. A blizzard strikes Texas & our state shuts down. Not good. Stay safe!”
Cruz was not the only Texas Republican to take a shot at California on energy policy in the last several years as the state endured catastrophic wildfires and intense heatwaves.
Rep. Dan Crenshaw, Attorney General Ken Paxton, and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, all Republicans, took shots at California Democrats last year as the government in the largest state in the country called for energy conservation during rolling blackouts during a heatwave.
Most of the criticism was aimed at California’s green energy policies, which Texan GOP members tried to blame for the state’s heatwaves.
“California’s politicians did this, not the heat,” Paxton tweeted in response to a media tweet about blackouts in parts of Southern California on September 6, 2020.
Patrick tweeted that “This is what happens when the Democrats are left in charge,” in response to the electricity blackouts in California last summer.
Texas and California have an unspoken rivalry fueled by the fact that they are the most populous states in the nation as well as polar opposites politically, generally speaking. Texas is a Republican-heavy state that saw 16 out of its 24 Republican House members vote against certifying President Joe Biden’s 2020 defeat against former President Donald Trump. California, meanwhile, sent 42 Democrats to the House of Representatives, including Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, a frequent target of Republican ire.
Meanwhile, Californians and Silicon Valley companies are moving to Texas, many to take advantage of the Lone Star State’s generous tax benefits for businesses and no income tax for individuals. In the past decade, more than 687,000 Californians have moved to Texas, the largest group of out-of-staters coming to the state.
Voting registration data doesn’t support the idea that Californians alone will turn Texas blue, but the threat of it sparked the creation of bumper stickers such as “Don’t California My Texas.”
But this week, as some four million Texans suffered through below-freezing temperatures without heat, electricity, and in some cases, water, the jabs at California’s summer blackouts were enough to make many voters angry.
“I hope no one forgets these winter nights come voting time,” one woman tweeted, tagging Cruz, Sen. John Cornyn, and Gov. Greg Abbott, who are also Republicans.
As of Wednesday, Cruz’s tweet was the only one of its kind from the Texas Republicans who publicly mocked California’s power crisis.
The Houston Chronicle, the second-largest newspaper by circulation in Texas, ran a scathing editorial on Cruz’s August tweets, saying the GOP senator had “openly and pathetically mocked California” with “no shortage of smugness.”
“How embarrassing for all of us,” the editorial said.