The brutal winter storm that turned Texas roads to ice, burst pipes across the state and left millions of residents shivering and without power has also damaged the reputations of three of the state’s leading Republicans.

Sen. Ted Cruz was discovered to have slipped off to Mexico on Wednesday night, only to announce his return when he was caught in the act. Gov. Greg Abbott came under fire over his leadership and misleading claims about the causes of the power outages. And former Gov. Rick Perry suggested Texans preferred power failures to federal regulation, a callous note in a moment of widespread suffering.

The brutal winter storm that turned Texas roads to ice, burst pipes across the state and left millions of residents shivering and without power has also damaged the reputations of three of the state’s leading Republicans.

Sen. Ted Cruz was discovered to have slipped off to Mexico on Wednesday night, only to announce his return when he was caught in the act. Gov. Greg Abbott came under fire over his leadership and misleading claims about the causes of the power outages. And former Gov. Rick Perry suggested Texans preferred power failures to federal regulation, a callous note in a moment of widespread suffering.

Democrats, meanwhile, seized the opportunity to contrast Republican leadership in Texas with President Joe Biden’s administration, which quickly offered full federal help and earlier pitched plans to upgrade infrastructure, counter climate change and expand the use of renewable energy.

Cruz’s short-circuited Cancun trip made him the biggest target of all. His habit of attacking politicians for taking time off during a disaster, his mocking of California for its power woes and his letter to Biden last week to keep the U.S.-Mexico border as closed as possible due to Covid have all come back to haunt him.