Texas House Dems
Most Conservative

Lib-Con Ranking
Empower Ranking
Combined Average


1

Ryan Guillen
Lib-Con = 1
Empower = 2
Combined = 1.5

2

Richard Raymond
Lib-Con = 2
Empower = 2
Combined = 2

3

Oscar Longoria
Lib-Con = 6
Empower = 3.5
Combined = 4.8

4

Bobby Guerra
Lib-Con = 6
Empower = 5.5
Combined = 5.8

5

Tracy King
Lib-Con = 3
Empower = 9.2
Combined = 6.1

6

Sergio Muñoz
Lib-Con = 9
Empower = 3.5
Combined = 6.3

7

Leo Pacheco
Lib-Con = 7
Empower = 9.2
Combined = 8.1

8

Joe Deshotel
Lib-Con = 10
Empower = 7
Combined = 8.5

9

Terry Canales
Lib-Con = 4
Empower = 15.3
Combined = 9.7

10

Harold Dutton
Lib-Con = 12
Empower = 8
Combined = 10

 

 

 

Texas House Dems
Least Conservative

Lib-Con Ranking
Empower Ranking
Combined Average


1

Gina Hinojosa
Lib-Con = 67
Empower = 65.3
Combined = 66.2

2

Ana-Maria Ramos
Lib-Con = 66
Empower = 60.2
Combined = 63.1

3

Toni Rose
Lib-Con = 64
Empower = 60.2
Combined = 62.1

4

Erin Zwiener
Lib-Con = 62
Empower = 60.2
Combined = 61.1

5

Vikki Goodwin
Lib-Con = 61
Empower = 60.2
Combined = 60.6

6

Victoria Neave
Lib-Con = 56
Empower = 60.2
Combined = 58.1

7

Jessica González
Lib-Con = 65
Empower = 48.1
Combined = 56.6

8

Jon Rosenthal
Lib-Con = 63
Empower = 48.1
Combined = 55.6

8

Carl Sherman
Lib-Con = 51
Empower = 60.2
Combined = 55.6

10

Lina Ortega
Lib-Con = 60
Empower = 48.1
Combined = 54.1

 

 

 

House Democrats
Shift Away from Left

Lib-Con 2019 & 2017
Empower 2019 & 2017
Combined Difference


1

Philip Cortez
Lib-Con 58-21 = -37
Empower 47-75 = -28
Combined Difference -65

2

Joe Moody
Lib-Con 34-12 = -22
Empower 63-95 = -32
Combined Difference -54

3

Ina Minjarez
Lib-Con 51-29 = -22
Empower 56-76 = -20
Combined Difference -42

4

Armando Walle
Lib-Con 76-60 = -16
Empower 43-60 = -17
Combined Difference -33

5

Barbara Gervin-Hawkins
Lib-Con 70-53 = -17
Empower 43-55 = -22
Combined Difference -29

 

 

 

House Democrats
Shift Away from Center

Lib-Con 2019 & 2017
Empower 2019 & 2017
Combined Difference


1

Toni Rose
Lib-Con 146-138= 8
Empower 20-15 = 5
Combined Difference 13

2

Gene Wu
Lib-Con 132-127 = 5
Empower 22-18 = 4
Combined Difference 9

3

Victoria Neave
Lib-Con 138-126 = 12
Empower 20-24 = -4
Combined Difference 8

3

Ron Reynolds
Lib-Con 136-133 = 3
Empower 24-19 = 5
Combined Difference 8

3

Senfronia Thompson
Lib-Con 111-105 = 6
Empower 23-21 = 2
Combined Difference 8

  Texas House GOP
Most Conservative

Lib-Con Ranking
Empower Ranking
Combined Average
1

Briscoe Cain
Lib-Con = 1
Empower = 2
Combined = 1.5

2

Tony Tinderholt
Lib-Con = 2
Empower = 3.5
Combined = 2.8

3

Jonathan Stickland
Lib-Con = 5
Empower = 1
Combined = 3

4

Mayes Middleton
Lib-Con = 3
Empower = 3.5
Combined = 3.3

5

Mike Lang
Lib-Con = 4
Empower = 6
Combined = 5

6

Matt Schaefer
Lib-Con = 6
Empower = 7.3
Combined = 6.7

7

Kyle Biedermann
Lib-Con = 12
Empower = 5
Combined = 8.5

8

Terry Wilson
Lib-Con = 10
Empower = 7.3
Combined = 8.7

9

Jared Patterson
Lib-Con = 8
Empower = 10
Combined = 9

10

Bill Zedler
Lib-Con = 11
Empower = 7.3
Combined = 9.2

 

 

 

Texas House GOP
Least Conservative

Lib-Con Ranking
Empower Ranking
Combined Average


1

Sarah Davis
Lib-Con = 82
Empower = 84.3
Combined = 83.2

2

Dan Huberty
Lib-Con = 80
Empower = 79.5
Combined = 79.8

3

J.D. Sheffield
Lib-Con = 81
Empower = 77.5
Combined = 79.3

4

J.M. Lozano
Lib-Con = 79
Empower = 81
Combined = 80

5

Charlie Geren
Lib-Con = 78
Empower = 77.5
Combined = 77.8

6

Ernest Bailes
Lib-Con = 77
Empower = 76
Combined = 76.5

7

Ken King
Lib-Con = 75
Empower = 79.5
Combined = 77.3

8

Lyle Larson
Lib-Con = 73
Empower = 74.5
Combined = 73.8

9

Geanie Morrison
Lib-Con = 71
Empower = 74.5
Combined = 72.8

10

John Zerwas
Lib-Con = 72
Empower = 73
Combined = 72.5

 

 

 

House Republicans
Shift Away from Right

Lib-Con 2019 & 2017
Empower 2019 & 2017
Combined Difference


1

Dustin Burrows
Lib-Con 58-21 = -37
Empower 47-75 = -28
Combined Difference -65

2

Jeff Leach
Lib-Con 34-12 = -22
Empower 63-95 = -32
Combined Difference -54

3

Stephanie Klick
Lib-Con 51-29 = -22
Empower 56-76 = -20
Combined Difference -42

4

Dwayne Bohac
Lib-Con 55-43 = -12
Empower 59-82 = -23
Combined Difference -35

5

Morgan Meyer
Lib-Con 76-60 = -16
Empower 43-60 = -17
Combined Difference -33

 

 

 

House Republicans
Shift Away from Center

Lib-Con 2019 & 2017
Empower 2019 & 2017
Combined Difference


1

Travis Clardy
Lib-Con 41-92 = 51
Empower 49-40 = 09
Combined Difference 60

2

Hugh Shine
Lib-Con 56-84 = 28
Empower 58-37 = 21
Combined Difference 49

3

Tom Oliverson
Lib-Con 22-58 = 36
Empower 71-60 = 11
Combined Difference 47

4

Drew Darby
Lib-Con 62-82 = 20
Empower 52-40 = 12
Combined Difference 32

5

Justin Holland
Lib-Con 18-41 = 23
Empower 70-62 = 08
Combined Difference 31

 

 

 

 

June 10, 2019

Most Republicans in Line of Dem Fire
Migrate Toward Middle wth 2019 Votes

Mark Jones Liberal-Conservative Rankings

Empower Texans Conservative Scorecard

Texas House Freshmen Rankings 2019

By Mike Hailey
Capitol Inside Editor

The vast majority of the Texas House Republicans who are the most vulnerable on paper in 2020 appeared to have an eye on the future when they were not as conservative in the regular session this year based on the two most prominent measuring sticks for ideological orientation at the statehouse in Austin.

The tea party duo of State Reps. Briscoe Cain of Deer Park and Tony Tinderholt of Arlington are ranked as the House's most conservative members in 2019 when the Empower Texans scorecard and the Liberal-Conservative scale that Rice University's Mark Jones has assembled are factored together.

 

Mark P. Jones is the leading expert on Texas politics in the academic community as a fellow at the Baker Institute for Public Policy at Rice University. Empower Texans has been the leading organizational donor to conservative Republicans in the Lone Star State with Tim Dunn of Midland as the top contributor and Austin activist Michael Quinn Sullivan as its director.

 

 

Renegade State Rep. Jonathan Stickland of Bedford is third despite his distinction as the lone lawmaker who broke ranks frequently with all of the lower chamber's other Republicans on major and less significant issues as well during the regular session that ended last week.

State Reps. Sarah Davis of Houston, Dan Huberty of Humble and J.D. Sheffield of Gatesville can be found at the opposite end of the red spectrum as the Republicans with the lowest combined averages in their rankings that were released this week by the big-spending group Empower Texans and the professor who's the leading expert on Texas politics in the academic community.

The six most conservative Democrats in the west wing of the statehouse this year all represent districts on the Texas border with Mexico or within a few miles of it. Seven of the House Democrats who the most conservative combined records in the recent regular session are based on or near the border.

A trio of Republicans - State Reps. Travis Clardy of Nacogdoches, Tom Oliverson of Cypress and Hugh Shine of Temple - took the most substantial strides to the right based on a Capitol Inside comparative analysis of the Houston-based political scientist's study and the Empower Texans Fiscal Responsibility Index.

GOP State Reps. Dustin Burrows of Lubbock and Stephanie Klick of Fort Worth made two of the three longest leaps to the left in 2019 when the Empower Texans scores and the rankings that Jones compiled are examined together. While Burrows and Klick had been two of the lower chamber's most conservative members since they'd arrived in Austin, the relatively moderate records that they had this time around has to be a product of their elevation to new GOP Speaker Dennis Bonnen's leadership team as committee chairs for the first time.

Clardy, Oliverson and Shine - like Burrows and Klick - all represent solid red districts where they don't have to worry about serious Democratic challenges but are not immune to primary opposition.

A quartet of Democrats - State Reps. Philip Cortez of San Antonio, Joe Moody of El Paso, Ina Minjarez of San Antonio and Armando Walle of Houston - made the most significant shifts across the aisle as lawmakers whose voting records were consideraly less liberal in 2019 than they'd been two years ago. It's probably no coincidence that all four had key roles in the Bonnen House where Walle, Minjarez and Cortez landed prize seats on the Appropriations Committee while Moody did double-duty as a Calendars Committee member who served as Bonnen's speaker pro tem. Cortez is the only one in that particular group who represents a district that could go red in the event of a massive wave from the right.

But the five House Republicans who took the sharpest conservative turns at the Capitol in the past five months all represent districts that appear to be GOP locks in next year's elections. The reviews that matter most are those that focus on the voting records that were compiled in 2019 by the lawmakers who are gearing for re-election races for seats that appear to be in the opposing party's reach to various degrees on a House battlefield where Democrats could take the majority back with a net gain of nine next year.

Republican State Rep. Jeff Leach of Allen is the undisputed king of that category as a lawmaker who plummeted 22 spots on the red side of the Houston-based political scientist's Liberal-Conservative scale while scoring 32 points lower on the Empower Texans Fiscal Responsibility Index than he had just two years ago.

A fourth-term suburban lawmaker who landed his first committee chairmanship after pulling the plug on his Texas Freedom Caucus membership last fall, Leach can expect to be one of the Democrats' top 10 targets in 2020 in a district where Democrat Beto O'Rourke beat Republican U.S. Senator Ted Cruz by more than 5 percentage points in the battle at the top of the Texas ballot last year.

Leach - a Bonnen lieutenant as the Judiciary & Civil Jurisprudence Committee chairman - led a parade of a dozen swing district Republicans in a collective shift toward the center stripe at the session that ended last week based on the findings here when the Empower Texans report card are sized up against the study that Jones conducted.

Veteran GOP State Rep. Dwayne Bohac of Houston ranks fourth in the moderation derby on his side of the aisle when the differences between the rankings that Jones and the conservative organization that Michael Quinn Sullivan leads are added up. Bohac, who'll be high on the opposition hit list in 2020 after beating a Democrat last fall by a mere 47 votes, dropped a dozen rungs on the Lib-Con ladder while his Empower Texans score took a 23-point dive for a cumulative 35 point vault toward the middle of the Texas political highway.

State Rep. Morgan Meyer - a Dallas Republican who also survived a close scare last fall - will be running for a third term next year with a huge target on his back like Bohac and Leach. Meyer geared up for the next campaign as the fifth-ranked House Republican in the moderate voting record shift league in the 2019 session. Meyer will be fighting for survival in a district where O'Rourke trounced Cruz by 15 points two years after President Donald Trump lost to Democrat Hillary Clinton there by six.

State Rep. Angie Chen Button - one of Dallas County's only two current Republican lawmakers - can be found among the top 10 in the centrist-shifting shuffle after falling 16 slots in the Jones rankings and scoring nine points below her 2017 mark on the Empower Texans conservative test for this year's votes. Button appears to be one of the most vulnerable Republicans on paper at the outset of a bid for a new term in the House where she's the Urban Affairs Committee chair on the Bonnen team.

But the slide of Republican State Reps. Matt Krause of Fort Worth and Matt Shaheen of Plano away from the hard right might be the most surprising and notable developments on the ideological positioning chart in light of their status as charter Texas Freedom Caucus conservatives. Krause and Shaheen declined to follow Leach's lead when he stepped down from the tea party group in favor of an opportunity to play on the Bonnen leadership team in a debut as a standing panel boss. But Shaheen and Krause - like Leach - had voting records that were decidedly less conservative this year as they prepare to seek new terms in districts that also will be in the Democrats' sights in 2020.

Shaheen appears to be in the same league of peril with Leach in a district that O'Rourke carried by almost 6 percentage points. Jones had ranked Shaheen as the House's seventh most conservative members in 2017 before lowering him to 14th in the new analysis. After acing the Empower Texans exam two years ago with a perfect score of 100, Shaheen graded out at 85 this time around. But that's still far more conservative than the average voter in his Collin County district had been in 2018 when he beat a Democrat by less than 400 votes out of more than 68,000 that were cast in November.

While Krause only landed two spots below his 2017 ranking on the lib-con scale that has him rated 13th now, the score that he received on the Fiscal Responsibility Index tumbled all the way from 98 to 78 after his most successful and least conservative session in a four-term career in the House. Krause probably can expect a formidable Democratic foe next year in a Tarrant County district where Cruz edged O'Rourke by less than 3 percentage points last fall.

A pair of fellow Tarrant County Republicans - State Reps. Craig Goldman of Fort Worth and Bill Zedler of Arlington - were downgraded to a lesser degree in the conservative rankings that the Rice professor and Sullivan's group trotted out this week compared to the way they'd fared two years ago. Zedler and Goldman both can expect targets on their backs when they are running for new terms in neighboring districts next.

Stickland was the highest-ranked House member on the Empower Texans scorecard for 2019 with a grade of 98. But Jones knocked the tea party crusader all the way down to fifth on the conservative list after having him in the third slot in 2017. As the only representative who voted against the state budget and school finance plans at least once this year, Stickland showed no signs of concern about a re-election bid in district where he will be one of the Democrats' top targets after a near-miss last fall when he beat a Democrat who'd been a heavy underdog with less than 50 percent of the vote.

Two House Republicans who Democrats have some shot at knocking off - State Reps. John Raney of College Station and Lynn Stucky of Sanger - appeared to go against the grain of the moderate migration trend based on the difference between their positions in the Jones lib-con and Empower Texans rankings in 2019 and 2017.

But the House's most moderate Republicans were all destined to move up on the Lib-Con scale in a chamber where there are 12 fewer GOP members than there had been two years ago. That helps explain why two of the House's most moderate Republicans - State Rep. Sarah Davis of Houston and John Zerwas of Richmond - vaulted 12 points and 8 points respectively on the Jones scale for conservatives.

Davis represents the most winnable district on paper for the Democrats on the lower chamber map. But that was the case in 2018 when Davis seemed immune to the blue wave that washed 12 Republicans seats into the Democratic column when she staved off a minority party challenger with more than 53 percent of the November vote.

While Davis might have appeared to have inched to the right when she jumped 12 spots on the Rice University gauge for conservative, that kept her dead last among the Republicans once the math plays out. By failing to jump at least 12 slots on the Jones chart for conservative, Zerwas actually took a 4-point dip for all practical purposes.

Zerwas is ranked as the 10th most moderate Republican in the lower chamber based on his Empower Texans and Lib-Con rankings this year. The appearance of Zerwas and Huberty near the bottom of the conservative chart is highly significant in light of the fact that they had they had the lead roles on the session's two biggest accomplishments as the authors of a new two-year state budget and a landmark school finance and property tax relief plan respectively.

Six of the 10 least conservative Republicans in the House based on the Empower Texans and Jones rankings served as committee chairs on Bonnen's first leadership during his debut this year as the chamber's first new top leader in 10 years. Davis and Sheffield helped craft a record $251 billion spending plan for the next two years as Bonnen appointees on the Appropriations Committee that Zerwas chaired.

While State Rep. Matt Schaefer of Tyler landed a coveted seat on the budget-writing panel this year as the lawmaker who's rated sixth on the combined conservative average list, none of the representatives in the top 10 served as committee chairs or Appropriations Committee members in 2019.

Burrows - one of 19 Republicans who opposed Bonnen's moderate predecessor Joe Straus in the 2015 speaker's election - soared to the left compared to his rankings two years ago when Jones ranked him as the 58th most conservative Republican in the lower chamber this year - a downgrade of 37 slots in the wake of session from which he emerged as a major star.

Empower Texans and other conservatives have viewed Burrows as an improvement when he claimed the job House GOP Caucus chairman before the session kicked off. But Burrows shed the conservative reputation that he'd spent two terms cultivating after Bonnen tapped him to lead the Ways & Means Committee and he responded with instrumental roles in the Legislature's successful fight to cut local property taxes while curbing their growth in the future.

The wages of leadership also were apparent in a 28-point plunge for Burrows on the Empower Texans scorecard for 2019. A first-term Elections Committee chair who led a winning fight to expand the state's medical marijuana law, Klick wasn't far behind Burrows in the race to the middle as a lawmaker whose Empower Texans score fell 20 points for a session that culminated in a 22-slot downgrade on the Jones chart.

 

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