January 22, 2020

Group on Right Backs Straus Successor in Curious Move
while Other Dem Targets Missing from Endorsement List

By Mike Hailey
Capitol Inside Editor

One of the state's leading conservative organizations pitched its support on Wednesday to a relatively moderate Texas House Republican who Democrats are targeting after declining up to now to endorse a half-dozen other GOP representatives who are fighting to survive a potential blue wave at the polls in November.

Texas Values Action added GOP State Rep. Steve Allison of San Antonio to the list of legislators who the group is backing this year in races for re-election to the Legislature's lower chamber that Democrats have a chance to take over with a net gain of eight or nine seats this fall.

Allison is a freshman lawmaker who won a House seat in 2018 in the Alamo City district that former Republican Speaker Joe Straus had represented for more than a dozen years before deciding to give up the gavel without a bid for a new term. Straus, who'd been constantly branded as a liberal on the hard right, had been Allison's most valuable supporter by far in his initial campaign for the House.

The other targeted House Republicans who've scored Texas Values Action endorsements like State Reps. Matt Krause of Fort Worth, Jeff Leach of Plano and Matt Shaheen of Plano have been staunch conservatives since they entered the lower chamber in Austin.

Thirty Republican state representatives have Texas Values Action in their corner so far in re-election quests in a state that Democrats have a shot to carry for the first time since 1976 with President Donald Trump leading the GOP ticket here this year. The group also has endorsed a handful of GOP candidates in races for House seats that are either open or currently held by Democrats.

But some of the House's most vulnerable Republicans including State Reps. Morgan Meyer of Dallas, Angie Chen Button of Garland, Sarah Davis of Houston, Craig Goldman of Fort Worth, Lynn Stucky of Sanger and Brad Buckley of Salado have been left out in the cold so far by Texas Values Action. That could change before voters go to the polls this year.

Texas Values Action rallied today for the first time behind Republicans Jeff Cason of Bedford, Jon Francis of Cisco and Lacey Hull of Houston in crowded GOP primary fields for seats that State Reps. Jonathan Stickland of Bedford, Mike Lang of Granbury and Dwayne Bohac of Houston are relinquishing without bids for new terms in 2020.

The seats that Bohac and Stickland are giving up are high on the Democrats' target list for the 2020 general election. Francis, whose father-in-law is conservative megadonor Farris Wilks, is competing against GOP primary rivals Chris Perricone of Mineral Wells, Glenn Rogers of Graford and Kellye SoRelle of Granbury for the right to replace Lang in a Central Texas district where the incumbent pulled the plug on a re-election race on the day of the December filing deadline.

Francis raised substantially more campaign cash in the final two weeks in December than all of the other Republican contenders in House races generated from supporters in the past 12 months. But $500,000 of $610,000 in contributions that Francis reported came from Wilks and his wife.

The organization broke ranks with Governor Greg Abbott when it endorsed former Republican legislator Mike Schofield in a battle for a House seat that rookie Democratic State Rep. Gina Calanni of Katy will attempt to defend after unseating him in one of the biggest upsets on the House battlefield in 2018 when the minority party flipped a dozen districts from red to blue. The Republican governor has thrown his support behind GOP contender Angelica Garcia in the fight with Schofield for a shot at Calanni in November.

Texas Values Action also is backing Carrie Isaac of San Marcos as one of three Republicans who are competing for the nomination this year in a House district that Democratic State Rep. Erin Zwiener of Driftwood wrestled from the GOP in the last cycle. Isaac's husband Jason Isaac has represented the Zwiener district near Austin until an unsuccessful bid for Congress in 2018.

Texas Values Action also issued endorsements today to Republican U.S. Reps. Louie Gohmert of Tyler, John Ratcliffe of Rockwall, Chip Roy of Austin, Van Taylor of Plano, Roger Williams of Austin and Ron Wright of Arlington for re-election races along with GOP hopefuls Jamie Berryhill of Andrews and Kathaleen Wall of Houston in crowded primary fields in open congressional contests on the 2020 ballot.


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