During election season, it is exceedingly rare to see campaigns associate with other campaigns, especially in overlapping districts where every vote counts and candidates want to avoid alienating any potential supporter.

But one such example is provided just south of the DFW Metroplex.

Jake Ellzey, candidate for the sixth U.S. congressional seat vacated by retiring US Rep. Joe Barton, is hosting a joint event with Cody Harris, a candidate for the Texas House District 8 race to replace retiring State Rep. Byron Cook (R–Corsicana).

Both Ellzey and Harris are in the middle of aggressive primary runoff campaigns for their respective races. Ellzey is facing Ron Wright while Harris is squaring off against Thomas McNutt. The two legislative districts only share one county, Navarro, where the Corsicana meet and greet is scheduled to be held next week.

By holding a joint event with Harris, Ellzey is making a questionable strategy decision that doesn’t appear to have any immediately obvious electoral benefit for the congressional candidate. Harris finished in last place in Navarro county during the March primary, behind both Linda Timmerman (who did not make the runoff) and McNutt.

And campaigning with Harris sure doesn’t do anything to help bolster Ellzey’s conservative credentials either.

Harris has received much of his campaign funding from establishment sources, such as the Associated Republicans of Texas, a group that, despite its name, is not affiliated with the Republican Party of Texas. Instead, the organization exists largely to give cover to allies of outgoing Speaker Joe Straus, supporting liberal candidates in the recent primary election like pro-abortion State Rep. Sarah Davis (R–West University Place) over conservative challengers endorsed by Gov. Greg Abbott, including McNutt.

The group has donated $90,000 to Harris’ campaign.

Meanwhile, the liberal Texas Association of Business is also supporting Harris’ campaign. During the last legislative session, the TAB battled conservatives against efforts like ending in-state tuition for illegal immigrants and banning sanctuary cities. Most notably, TAB was seen leading the opposition against the Texas Privacy Act, a bill designed to prevent local governments from forcing businesses to allow men into women’s showers, locker rooms, and restrooms.

Harris has also reported a donation from Cook himself, who consistently served as a reliable obstacle to conservative legislation during his time in the Texas House, most notably as the Chair of the State Affairs Committee. During the last legislative session, Cook worked to scuttle Gov. Greg Abbott’s ethics legislation, kill the Texas Privacy Act, and prevent legislation preventing the automatic collection of labor union dues from coming to the floor.

Harris also has the support of Straus, who became the first lawmaker to be officially censured by the Republican Party of Texas earlier this year due to his repeated obstruction of priority conservative legislation. During the most recent campaign finance filings, the Texas House Leadership Fund, a PAC controlled by Straus, gave $25,000 to his campaign.

Adding to his detachment from conservative voters in Navarro county, Harris employs Matthew Bentley as his campaign manager. Bentley, who previously ran Cook’s campaign in 2016, is a registered lobbyist for the proposed high-speed rail project vastly opposed by conservative activists in the county, that could potentially be divided and impacted by runaway use of eminent domain, should the project be realized.

By associating with Harris, Ellzey and his campaign are shedding more light on his own liberal leanings.

The joint meet and greet for the candidates is scheduled for Monday, May 7. The Republican primary runoff election for both races is May 22.

Brandon Waltens

Brandon serves as the Senior Editor for Texas Scorecard. After managing successful campaigns for top conservative legislators and serving as a Chief of Staff in the Texas Capitol, Brandon moved outside the dome in order to shine a spotlight on conservative victories and establishment corruption in Austin. @bwaltens


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