As the Republican primary nears, the race for House District 133 in West Houston is heating up.

Republican State Rep. Mano DeAyala is trying to hold off a challenge from John T. Perez, a member of the Spring Branch Independent School District’s board of trustees, in the heavily red area.

Perez announced his intention to run for the seat in September after DeAyala voted to impeach Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, telling Texas Scorecard at the time that DeAyala’s vote was a “stark contradiction” to his claims of being a conservative. Paxton was later acquitted by the Texas Senate. 

The vote could prove costly for DeAyala, who is just a first-term lawmaker. In May 2022, he narrowly won the Republican primary runoff by around 200 votes, setting him up to win the seat that November.


One of DeAyala’s top donors is House Speaker Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont), who has provided over $30,000 to his reelection campaign so far this election cycle, according to data accumulated by Transparency USA.

He also has the backing of the Texans for Lawsuit Reform PAC, which Texas Scorecard previously reported as giving hundreds of thousands of dollars to supporters of the Paxton impeachment effort.

When it comes to ratings, DeAyala earned a 57 out of 100 for his votes cast this session by Texans for Fiscal Responsibility, only 17 points above the House average of 40.

DeAyala scored much better in the Young Conservatives of Texas’ ranking, however. The group gave him an 87 out of 100, which was near the top of Republican legislators.

Among DeAyala’s endorsements are the Houston Police Officers’ Union, the Greater Houston Builders Association, the Texas Association of Business, the Hispanic Republicans of Texas, the Texas Home School Coalition Association, and the Houston Chronicle.

Perez, meanwhile, has the endorsements of Paxton and Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, as well as the recommendations of grassroots organizations like True Texas Project and Texans for Vaccine Choice.

Transparency USA shows that Perez has been receiving most of his money from small-dollar donors, with his largest donation of more than $30,000 coming from John Holcomb.

On the Issues

Beyond the Paxton impeachment, Texas Scorecard asked the two candidates a series of questions to see where they stood on three other important key issues for conservatives in the state. 

Only Perez responded to Texas Scorecard before publication.

Question: Should Texas remove in-state tuition for illegal aliens and mandate E-Verify?

Perez: “Yes on both accounts. Texas taxpayers can simply no longer afford the educational carrying costs resulting from our border crisis. We must de-incentivize human trafficking, drug smuggling, cheap illegal labor, and the subsequent social, educational, and health burdens placed on our State. Given the Supreme Court ruling permitting the removal of Texas’s barbed wire and fortifications, we MUST remove the magnet of illegal immigration by employing E-Verify. This simple step will alleviate the extreme financial, security, and societal stresses our state experiences.” 

DeAyala’s record shows he sponsored Senate Bill 4, Gov. Greg Abbott’s border security legislation that makes it a state crime to illegally cross the Mexican border into Texas between ports of entry. It is unclear if he supports going further with immigration restriction to bar illegal aliens from receiving in-state tuition or mandate E-Verify.

Question: Should Texas allow for the expansion of gambling?

Perez: “I do not support the expansion of gambling. I support the personal freedom afforded to Texans to make and spend their money how they want as long as it does not infringe on anyone else’s rights; however, gambling is typically accompanied by other vices and addictions, blighted properties, and crony capitalism that I do not support expanding within our State’s borders.”

DeAyala voted against House Joint Resolution 155 that sought to expand casino gambling in Texas. He also voted against House Joint Resolution 102, which sought to legalize some sports betting.

Question: Do you support school choice?

Perez: “Yes. I have made my stance very clear, and well before my opponent. I support universal school choice and a fair educational service free market where all Texan students are fully funded.”

DeAyala supported Abbott’s education package, which ultimately failed after 21 Republicans joined Democrats in amending the bill to strip school choice from it. 

Election Day

The Republican primary election is scheduled for March 5. The candidate who receives the nomination will win the general election in November, as Democrats did not field a candidate.

Luca Cacciatore

Luca H. Cacciatore is a journalist for Texas Scorecard. He is an American Moment inaugural fellow and former welder.