DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – The jailing of Shelley Luther has become a rallying cry for Texas Republican leaders and conservatives across the state and the country.
At the White House Thursday afternoon, Governor Greg Abbott told President Donald Trump that he made a change to prevent what happened to Luther from happening again. “We should not be taking these people and put them behind bars.. That is why I issued another executive order today saying that in the state of Texas, no one can be put behind bars because they are not following an executive order.”
Sitting in the Oval Office, the President asked the Governor, “That includes the woman that we’ve been reading about with the beauty salon?”
The Governor said, “She is free today.”
The President replied, “Good.”
Governor Abbott has said he has followed the advice of Dr. Deborah Birx and the other medical experts at the White House.
President Trump has consistently praised Governor Abbott for how he has handled the Covid-19 outbreak.
But some grassroots conservatives in Texas have criticized Governor Abbott for not reopening salons and other businesses in Texas fast enough.
Matt Rinaldi, a former Republican state legislator from Irving, said the Luther case highlighted the problem. “I think it shows how disastrous a policy the broad-based lock-down has been as opposed to a more targeted approach. The idea that in America that a mother isn’t free to work to provide for her family goes against everything we believe in as a nation.”
Rinaldi said he believed the Governor could lose some support. “I do think he’s going to be hurt politically by it. This all happened as a result of Governor Abbott’s unilateral orders.”
The Governor has also received sharp criticism from Democrats, who supported Dallas County Judge Eric Moye’s decision to send Luther to jail.
Carol Donovan, Chair of the Dallas County Democratic Party said, “It’s pretty obvious that it’s political. When it is to Governor Abbott’s. Ken Paxton’s, and Dan Patrick’s benefit, then they can tell people they can break the rules.”
Donovan, the Texas Democratic Party and various Democratic leaders across the state have also accused the Governor of reopening Texas too soon.
Donovan said, “It’s all going to backfire in their face when the coronavirus becomes worse. The Governor has plowed on as per Trump’s orders and he has opened up Texas with a callous disregard for human life.”
Texas has fewer cases of Covid-19 and fewer deaths related to the virus than other large states.
Even before Luther and her salon made national headlines, Governor Abbott scored well in two recent polls, with a majority of Texans approving the way he’s responded to the pandemic.
Republican consultant and Travis County GOP Chair Matt Mackowiac said the Governor has struck a sensible balance and won’t suffer politically. “Governor Greg Abbott has always had really strong support from Republican primary voters and I don’t see that changing once we get passed this. There’s no question that in the short term there is some frustration that Texas didn’t re-open quicker. I think the memories on this will be pretty short as we get back to a new normal. We’re moving much faster than many of the other states. All that’s going to matter is how quickly we bounce back.”
Mackowiac said he believes the controversy surrounding Luther will blow over quickly.