AUSTIN (Nexstar) — As promised, Gov. Greg Abbott is officially endorsing every House Republican who supported his school voucher-like proposal after a group within the GOP banded together with Democrats to kill the governor’s legislative priority.
The governor’s campaign announced Monday that Abbott will be supporting 58 “strong conservatives in the Texas House” in their bids for reelection in the 2024 primaries.
“Each of these House Republicans are proven fighters, and I am proud to endorse every one of these strong conservatives who are seeking reelection,” Abbott said in a statement. “I encourage Texans to join me in supporting them for re-election so we can pass school choice for all Texas families and continue to build a safer, brighter, and more prosperous Texas of tomorrow.”
The governor also gave a nod to five state representatives who are not running for reelection, but Abbott said were also essential in passing conservative priorities: Reps. Charles Anderson of Waco, Craig Goldman of Fort Worth, Geanie Morrison of Victoria, Jared Patterson of Frisco, and Matt Schaefer of Tyler.
An Abbott aide familiar with the matter said this round of endorsements was solely focused on the Republicans who backed him on his failed number one priority — education savings account. The proposal to give Texas parents access to state dollars to help pay for private school is effectively dead for the fourth special session, after a group of 21 Republicans joined Democrats to strip the ESA proposal from House Bill 1.
HB 1 is an education omnibus bill that supporters hoped would get voucher opponents on board, because it also included money to increase the basic allotment for public schools and teacher pay raises. Ultimately, the majority in the House rejected ESAs by successfully passing an amendment that stripped the ESA proposal from HB 1, brought by Rep. John Raney, R-College Station, proposed. The group of opponents later doubled down by passing another amendment to prohibit further discussion of ESAs while debating the bill.
The defeat came as a major loss to Abbott, who has invested nearly a year of political capital into trying to garner support for so-called “school choice.” The proposal has lead the agendas for both special session number three and four, after failing to pass during the regular legislative session.
He has threatened to call lawmakers back again and again for indefinite special sessions until ESAs are passed, and is has vowed to back primary opponents for the Republicans who did not follow his lead. Abbott has not yet endorsed alternative GOP candidates running against House incumbents.
The 58 House Republicans that Abbott is backing in the GOP primaries include: Reps. Trent Ashby of Lufkin, Cecil Bell Jr. of Magnolia, Greg Bonnen of Friendswood, Brad Buckley of Killeen, Ben Bumgarner of Flower Mound, Dustin Burrows of Lubbock, Angie Chen Button of Richardson, Briscoe Cain of Deer Park, Giovanni Capriglione of Southlake, David Cook of Mansfield, Tom Craddick of Midland, Charles Cunningham of Humble, Mano DeAyala of Houston, Mark Dorazio of San Antonio, James Frank of Wichita Falls, Frederick Frazier of McKinney, Gary Gates of Richmond, Stan Gerdes of Smithville, Ryan Guillen of Rio Grande City, Sam Harless of Spring, Caroline Harris of Round Rock, Cody Harris of Palestine, Brian Harrison of Midlothian, Richard Hayes of Denton, Cole Hefner of Mt. Pleasant, Lacey Hull of Houston, Todd Hunter of Corpus Christi, Carrie Isaac of Dripping Springs, Jacey Jetton of Richmand, Stan Kitzman of Pattison, Stephanie Klick of Fort Worth, Brooks Landgraf of Odessa, Jeff Leach of Plano, Janie Lopez of San Benito, J. M. Lozano of Kingsville, John Lujan of San Antonio, Will Metcalf of Conroe, Morgan Meyer of University Park, Candy Noble of Lucas, Tom Oliverson of Cypress, Angelia Orr of Itasca, Dennis Paul of Houston, Nate Schatzline of Forth Worth, Mike Schofield of Katy, Matt Shaheen of Plano, Shelby Slawson of Stephenville, John Smithee of Amarillo, David Spiller of Jacksboro, Lynn Stucky of Denton, Valoree Swanson of Spring, Carl Tepper of Lubbock, Kronda Thimesch of Lewisville, Tony Tinderholt of Arlington, Steve Toth of The Woodlands, Ellen Troxclair of Lakeway, Cody Vasut of Angleton, Terry Wilson of Marble Falls.
This batch of endorsements already put Abbott at odds with Attorney General Ken Paxton, who is also on a political retribution tour himself.
Paxton, who was impeached by the lower chamber in May, began seeking revenge against House Republicans who voted to impeach him immediately after being acquitted in the Texas Senate’s trial. Abbott will be at odds with Paxton in 11 different primary races, in which the attorney general is supporting alternative Republican candidates; those include: Reps. Bumgarner, Burrows, DeAyala, Frazier, Jetton, Leach, Noble, Shaheen, Spiller, Stucky and Thimesch.