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As millions of his constituents endured a third day without power and an increasing number faced boil water notices due to winter weather, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz traveled to Mexico on Wednesday for a family vacation—putting himself under a national microscope.
The Republican lawmaker's trip to Cancun was part of "a long-planned trip," according to the Associated Press. Cruz issued a statement Thursday, shared by NBC News' Vaughn Hillyard and others, in which he said that the trip was in response to a request by his daughters, who "asked to take a trip with friends."
New Statement from @tedcruz: pic.twitter.com/0WMni5O9R1
— Vaughn Hillyard (@VaughnHillyard) February 18, 2021
Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo confirmed that the senator's staff had contacted the department and asked for assistance "upon the senator's arrival at the airport," according to USA Today. Photos of the Trump ally at the Houston airport circulated on social media on Wednesday.
Just confirmed @SenTedCruz and his family flew to Cancun tonight for a few days at a resort they've visited before. Cruz seems to believe there isn't much for him to do in Texas for the millions of fellow Texans who remain without electricity/water and are literally freezing. pic.twitter.com/6nPiVWtdxe
— David Shuster (@DavidShuster) February 18, 2021
In November, Cruz was one of many that criticized Austin Mayor Stever Adler after he traveled to Cabo San Lucas amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hypocrites. Complete and utter hypocrites.
And don't forget @MayorAdler who took a private jet with eight people to Cabo and WHILE IN CABO recorded a video telling Austinites to "stay home if you can...this is not the time to relax." pic.twitter.com/KSvkiwxgga
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) December 2, 2020
In the midst of his own public relations crisis, the two-term senator faces criticism on either side of the aisle for his travel plans. "That's something that he has to answer to his constituents about," Texas GOP Chairman Allen West told the AP. The Texas Democratic Party called on Cruz to resign, using the hashtag "Cancun Cruz" on social media.
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Matthew McConaughey is reportedly weighing a run for Texas governor in 2022.
The Austin resident and Oscar winner has been "quietly making calls to influential people in Texas political circles, including a deep-pocketed moderate Republican and energy CEO" as he decides whether to run, according to Politico.
McConaughey said a gubernatorial run is "a true consideration" while on a March episode of Houston's "The Balanced Voice" podcast.
Although most political strategists doubt McConaughey's commitment and viability as a candidate, some are still intrigued by the possibility.
"I find it improbable, but it's not out of the question," Karl Rove, a top Republican strategist with a long history in Austin, told the political news site. He added that the big question is whether McConaughey would run as a Republican, a Democrat or an independent.
Brendan Steinhauser, an Austin-based GOP strategist, told Politico he's surprised McConaughey isn't being taken more seriously. "Celebrity in this country counts for a lot," he said. "It's not like some C-list actor no one likes. He has an appeal."
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott plans to run for a third term and remains popular among Republican voters, 77% of whom approve of his performance as of April, according to the Texas Politics Project.
Some strategists believe an independent McConaughey run would benefit Abbott. But a recent poll from The Dallas Morning News and the University of Texas at Tyler found that McConaughey would beat Abbott, 45% to 33%, with 22% opting for someone else.
Mimi Swartz, an executive editor at Texas Monthly, mulled a McConaughey run in a recent opinion essay from the New York Times. "Texas may not be ready for a philosopher king as a candidate, much less governor," she wrote. "May the best man win, man."
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Some JuiceLand production facility workers and storefront employees are organizing to demand wage increases, better working conditions (including air conditioning in the warehouse) and pay transparency, among other asks. They are also calling on staff to strike and customers to boycott the Austin-based company until their demands are met.
JuiceLand responded on Saturday. "We are listening," the company wrote on their Instagram story. "JuiceLand crew now makes guaranteed $15 an hour or more companywide."
JuiceLand, which was founded in 2001 by Matt Shook and now has 35 locations in Austin, Houston and Dallas, acknowledged the rising cost of living across Texas and the added stress of the pandemic in an email to employees on Saturday, part of which @juicelandworkersrights shared on social media. "There's no denying that times are tough and financial security means more now than ever," the company wrote.
Organized JuiceLand workers rejected this proposal, according to a recent post on the @juicelandworkersrights Instagram account, and reiterated their demands.
"Cost of living in Austin is rising exponentially and will only continue to get worse with the tech boom," the post read. "$15 is barely a sustainable living."