LIBERTY, Texas—A conservative activist has decided to run for office herself after her hometown lawmaker failed to fight for conservative values in the Texas Legislature.
Emily Kebodeaux Cook, the general counsel for Texas Right to Life, announced her campaign against State Rep. Ernest Bailes (R—Shepherd) in October of last year and has been firing on all cylinders ever since.
Bailes, a deer breeder from San Jacinto County, entered the Texas Legislature in 2017 and quickly compiled an impressively dismal record on not just the life issue, but fiscal issues as well—earning a 42 on the Fiscal Responsibility Index for his votes against property tax reform, spending limits, and including more citizens in annexation protections.
It’s that record that Cook says spurred her to run for public office herself.
“I’ve lived in Liberty County my whole life and I know what our values are. We aren’t one of the most liberal communities in Texas, we’re one of the most conservative,” said Cook. “Our current representative was someone who fought against conservatives. I will be someone who echoes our conservative values and fights for them in the Texas House.”
But Ernest Bailes isn’t running from his record, he’s embracing it.
At a candidate forum in Liberty County earlier this week, the lawmaker touted his relationship with outgoing House Speaker Joe Straus as evidence of his ability to get legislation passed in Texas and dismissed efforts by Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, and Republican legislators to pass property tax reform.
Bailes also sidestepped questions asking if he would commit to voting for the Republican nominee for Speaker of the Texas House. He has thus far refused to sign the Texas GOP’s Speaker commitment form—a decision that signals he is still open to supporting the Democratic Caucus’ nominee for Speaker instead of that of his own party.
At the same event, Cook drew contrast with Bailes by highlighting her signature on the Texas GOP’s pledge and support for Abbott’s property tax reform plan.
“It is ridiculous that we are even having a conversation about electing the Speaker in the Republican Caucus, we should have been doing this years ago so that a Democrat coalition didn’t get to hold our conservative Republican state hostage,” said Cook.
“I support Gov. Greg Abbott’s plan to give voters a greater voice on property tax increases and I look forward to voting for it in the Texas Legislature,” she added.
While Cook is mounting an aggressive campaign for public office, the battle against Bailes is still one that is going to be uphill—especially considering the support he’s receiving from local Democrats who have promised to volunteer and stand polls for him in order to ensure that he is re-elected.
This article is part of Texas Scorecard’s “On the Trail Tour” series. To view more field reports on campaigns across the state of Texas, visit our website here.
Zach Maxwell contributed to this report.

Cary Cheshire

Cary Cheshire is the Vice President of Texans for Fiscal Responsibility. A 6th Generation Texan, Cary attended Texas A&M University was active in a number of conservative causes including Ted Cruz's Senate campaign. He has also worked on campaigns to elect conservatives to Congress and the Texas Legislature. Cary enjoys college football, genealogy research, and the occasional craft beer.

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