January 20, 2020

Speaker Team Republicans Rally Behind Conservative Duo
as Donor Who Angered Bonnen Bankrolls Primary Challenger

By Mike Hailey
Capitol Inside Editor

Texas House District 28
Special Election Cash

Donations & Loans 2019
Cash on Hand December 31

Briscoe Cain (R-Inc)
House District 128
Jan 15 Report: $125,891
Total Donations: $143,548
Campaign Loans: $0
Cash on Hand: $133,616
Bob Hoskins (R)
House District 128
Jan 15 Report: $4,575
Total Donations: $4,575
Campaign Loans: $0
Cash on Hand: $3,804
Jared Patterson (R-Inc)
House District 106
Jan 15 Report: $128,336
Total Donations: $138,796
Campaign Loans: $0
Cash on Hand: $103,935
James Trombley (R)
House District 106
Jan 15 Report: $45,584
Total Donations: $45,584
Campaign Loans: $0
Cash on Hand: $20,819

Source: Texas Ethics


A pair of Texas House Republicans with tea party ties reaped record sums of campaign cash from GOP colleagues for potentially competitive primary fights in 2020 in a foreshadowing of a brewing battle within the majority party in an open race for the lower chamber's top leadership post.

Most of the money that GOP State Reps. Briscoe Cain of Deer Park and Jared Patterson of Frisco received from fellow legislators in the past six months came courtesy of Republicans who are perceived to be outgoing House Speaker Dennis Bonnen loyalists.

A second-term lawmaker who's been one of the House's most conservative members, Cain reported contributions of almost $126,000 during the second half of 2019 with one-third of that amount coming from 31 Republican colleagues who also are running for re-election this year in most cases.

Patterson, a freshman legislator who's based in the suburbs on the northern outskirts of the Dallas-Fort Worth area, scored 29 percent of more than $128,000 that he raised between July and January from other GOP representatives who've mostly been associated with the Bonnen team.

Patterson is attempting to stave off a challenge from war veteran James Trombley in the March 3 primary election when Cain will be squaring off with Baytown City Council member Bob Hoskins in a largely blue collar district on the eastern edge of the Houston area.

But a couple of former Bonnen allies who turned against him last year in the midst of a targeting scandal - Republican State Reps. Chris Paddie of Marshall and Walter "Four" Price of Amarillo - threw a wrench into theories on the primary fundraising as speaker race spinoffs when they both gave the endangered conservatives $1,000 each.

Trombley relied on a Bonnen critic for more than 82 percent of nearly $46,000 that he rounded up last year after taking aim at Patterson in round one in House District 106. Darlene Pendery of Flower Mound contributed $37,500 to Trombley for the primary showdown with Patterson.

Pendery drew the first-term speaker's wrath last spring at a Texas Republican Party fundraiser when she invited gun rights activist Chris McNutt to be a guest at her table where Bonnen was sitting as well. Bonnen had accused McNutt of attempting to intimidate him and his family when the activist ventured into the speaker's neighborhood in the coastal city of Lake Jackson to protest the death of a constitutional carry measure in the 2019 regular session. Bonnen accused Pendery of setting him up for a confrontation that erupted at the party fundraising event before he stormed out of it early.

Hoskins, who's a former school board president, raised less than $4,600 last year after setting his sights on Cain in House District 128. But Hoskins spent more than $20,000 in personal funds on the bid for the lower chamber.

While Cain and Patterson received substantial contributions from lobbyists and groups that tend to back incumbents, they depended as much or more on fellow lawmakers in their fundraising efforts in the second half of last year. Thirty-four House Republicans rallied behind Patterson with re-election bid donations while Cain reported contributions from 31 GOP colleagues.

Freshman State Rep. Mayes Middleton of Wallisville gave Patterson and Cain $5,000 apiece. State Rep. Valoree Swanson of Spring donated $5,000 to Cain who also received $2,500 from State Rep. Jim Murphy of Houston. State Rep. Dade Phelan - a Beaumont Republican who Bonnen appointed as the chairman of the powerful State Affairs Committee after his election as speaker early last year - gave Patterson and Cain $1,500 apiece.

The speaker's brother - State Rep. Greg Bonnen of Friendswood - and State Rep. Dustin Burrows of Lubbock both contributed $2,500 apiece to Cain and Patterson. Burrows had been the House GOP Caucus chairman when he was implicated with the speaker last year in a scheme that targeted at least 10 Republican colleagues for defeat in the 2020 primary election. Revelations about the hit list prompted Burrows to resign as the caucus boss before Bonnen eventually pulled the plug on a hometown re-election race after initially denying the allegations that conservative activist Michael Quinn Sullivan had lodged after a secret plotting session in the speaker's office in June.

Cain and Patterson gave each other $1,000. Twenty-one House Republicans donated $1,000 apiece to Cain while Patterson reported contributions of that amount from 20 fellow GOP representatives.

Price and Paddie were in a group of five House Republicans who effectively put an end to Bonnen's attempt to survive the scandal when they abandoned their support for the speaker in a coordinated move last fall. Bonnen responded by removing Paddie as the chairman of the Sunset Advisory Commission.


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